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NEW KOYELS AT ALL LIBRARIES.
THE RELL OF ST. PAUL'S. By Walter Besant.
FOR THE LOVE OF A LASS. By Austin Clare.
FETTERED FOR LIFE. By Frank Barrett.
PASSION'S SLAVE. By Richard Ashe King.
A YANKEE AT THE COURT OF KING
ARTHUR. By Mark Twain, i vol.
THE DEAD MAN'S SECRET ; or, the Valley of
Gold. By J. E. Muddock. i vol.
THE ROMANCE OF JENNY HARLOWE. By
W. Clakk Russell, i vol.
London : CHATTO & WINDUS, Piccadilly, W.
iVITH A PREFACE BV WALTER BESANT AND
ILLUSTRATIONS BV A. FORESTIER
IN THREE VOLUMES
IT n b It
CHATTO & WINDUS, PICCADILLY
The Illustrations to this Story are reproduced jroin
' The Illustrated London News,^ by kind permission of
the P7-oprietors of that Journal
Jv J^N the month of August, and in the middle of
the seaside holiday, a message came to me
from Wilkie Collins, then, though ice hoped
^ otherwise, on his death-bed.
It was conveyed to me by Mr. A. P. Watt.
f^ The icords of his letter were as follows : ' I
J have just come from Wilkie Collins, who is
J very ill. He told me that his novel, " Blind
V Love,'' is unfinished, and that it is quite im-
possible for him to tJiiidc of finishing it. Then
he said : " Ash Walter Besant if he ivill finish
it for me. Tell him that I would do as much
>^for him if he were in my r)lace and I in his.
^ If he has the time I tlnnk he will do this for
' f vie. We are both old hands at the work, and
V ^ BLIND LOVE
vje understand it.'' He has placed in my
hands the notes of the remainder^ which I will
forward to you if you can accede to his request.
Under the circumstances of the case, it was
impossible to decline this request. I wrote to
say that time should he made, and the notes
were forwarded to me at Bohin Hood's Bay. I
began by reading carefully and twice over, so
as to get a grip of the story and the novelist's
intention, the part that had already appeared in
the ' Blustrated London News,' and the proofs so
far as the author had gone. 1 then turried to the
notes. I found that these were not merely notes,
such as I had expected — simple indications of
the plot and the develoqoment of events — hut an
actual detailed scenario, in which every incident,
however trivial, teas carefully laid down: there
were also fragments of dialogue inserted at
those places where dialogue was wanted to em-
phasise the situation and make it real. I was
much struck with the writer's perception of the
vast importance of dialogue in making the
reader seize the scene. Description requires
attention : dialogue rivets attention.
It is not an easy task, nor is it pleasant, to
carry on another mans work : hut the possession
of this scenario lightened the work enormously.
I have been careful to adhere faithfully and
exactly to the plot, scene by scene, down to the
smallest detail as it icas laid down by the author
in this book. I have altered nothing. I have
jyreserved and incorporated every fragment of
dialogue. I have used the very language
wherever that was ivritten so carefidly as to
show that it was meant to be used. I think that
there is only one trivial detail ichere I had to
choose, because it was not clear from the notes
what the author had intended. The plot of the
novel, every scene, every situation, from begin-
ning to end, is the work of Wilkie Collins. The
actual writing is entirely his up to a certain
point: froon that point to the end it is his in
viii BUND LOVE
fragments^ hut mainly mine. Where his writing
ends and mine begins^ I need not point out.
The practised critic will, no douht, at once lay
his finger on the spot.
I have therefore cariied out the author s
wishes to the best of my ahility. Would that
he icere liviiig still, if only to regret that he had
not been allowed to finish his last work with his
oimi hand !
Walter Be s ant.
THE FIRST VOLUME
I. THE SOUR FRENCH WINE . . . .
II. THE MAN SHE REFUSED ....
III. THE REGISTERED PACKET . . . .
IV. THE GAME : MOUNTJOY LOSES .
V. THE GAME '. MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD
VI. THE GAME : MOUNTJOY WINS .
VII. DOCTORING THE DOCTOR . . . .
VIII. HER father's MESSAGE ....
IX. MR. VIMPANY ON INTOXICATION .
X. THE MOCKERY OF DECEIT .
X BLIND LOVE
XI. MRS. VIMPANY'S FAREWELL 231
XIL LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 247
XIII. IRIS AT HOME 260
XIV. THE lady's-maid 278
XV. MR. Henley's temper . . . . . . 288
XVI. THE DOCTOR IN FULL DRESS 294
TO VOL. I
' DENNIS, I HAVE GOT SOMETHING FOR YOU TO DO. IT
MUST BE KEPT A SECRET, AND IT ALLOWS OF NO
DELAY ' Froritispiece
LIFTING THE PERFORATED PAPER, HE PLACED IT DELI-
CATELY OVER THE PAGE WHICH CONTAINED THE UN-
INTELLIGIBLE WRITING. . . . To face i^age 13
MRS. LEWSON'S FACE BRIGHTENED IN AN INSTANT : SHE
THREW THE DOOR WIDE OPEN WITH A GLAD CRY OF
SHE DREW OUT A SILVER TRAVELLING-FLASK. ONE GLANCE
AT THE NAME ENGRA\TED ON IT TOLD HIM THE TERRIBLE
IMPULSrV'ELY SHE DREW HIS HEAD DOWN . . . .111
NOW,' SHE SAID. TAKING A CHAIR BY THE BEDSIDE, ' YOU
SHALL KNOW WHAT A CLEVER W^IFE YOU HAVE GOT' .197.
THE WILD LORD READ IT : LOOKED (TO USE THE MES-
SENGER'S OWN words) LIKE A MAN CUT TO THE HEART,
AND SEEMED AT A LOSS WHAT TO SAY OR DO . . 265
OON after sunrise, on
a cloudy morning
in the year 1881,
a special messen-
ger disturbed the
repose of Dennis
)A Howmore, at his
place of residence in the pleasant Irish town
Well acquainted apparently with the way
upstairs, the man thumped on a bedroom
door, and shouted Lis message through it
/, VOL. I.
2 BLIND LOVE
' The master wants you, and mind you don't
keep liim waLling.'
The person sendmg tliis peremptory mes-
sage was Sir Giles Mountjoy of Ardoon ;
knight and l}anker. Tlie person receiving
the message was Sir Giles's head clerk. As a
matter of course, Dennis Howmore dressed
himself at full speed, and hastened to his
emplvoyer's private house on the outskirts of
He found Sir Giles in an irritable and
anxious state of mind. A letter lay open on
the banker's bed, his night-cap was crumpled
crookedly on his head, he was in too great a
hurry to remember the claims of politeness,
when the clerk said ' Good-mornino\'
' Dennis, I have got something for you to
do. It must be kept a secret, and it allows
of no delay.'
' Is it anything connected with business,
THE PROLOGUE 3
The banker lost his temper. ' How can
you be such an infernal fool as to suppose
that anything connected with business could
happen at this time in the morning ? Do you
know the first milestone on the road to
Garvan ? '
' Yes, sir/
' Very w^ell. Go to the milestone, and
take care that nobody sees you when you get
there. Look at the back of the stone. If
you discover an Object which appears to
have been left in that situation, on tlie
ground, brino- it to me ; and don't forget that
the most impatient man in all Ireland is wait-
ing for you.'
Not a word of explanation followed these
The head clerk set forth on his errand,
with his mind dweUing on the national
tendencies to conspiracy and assassination.
His employer was not a popular person. Sir
4 I^LIND LOVE
Giles liacl paid rent when lie owed it ; and,
worse still, was disposed to remember in a
friendly spirit what England had done for
Ireland, in the course of the last fifty years.
If anything appeared to justify distrust of the
mysterious Object of which he was in search,
Dennis resolved to be vigilantly on the look-
out for a gun- barrel, whenever he passed a
hedge on his return journey to the town.
Arrived at the milestone, he discovered
on the ground behind it one Object only — a
fragment of a broken tea-cup.
Naturally enough, Dennis hesitated. It
seemed to be impossible that tlie earnest and
careful instructions which he had received
could relate to such a trifle as this. At the
same time, he was acting under orders which
were as positive as tone, manner, and language
could make them. Passive obedience ap-
peared to be the one safe course to take — at
the risk of a reception, irritating to any man's
THE PROLOGUE ^
self-respect, when he returned to his employer
with a broken tea-cup in his hand.
The event entirely failed to justify his
misgivings. There could be no doubt that
Sir Giles attached serious importance to the
contemptible discovery made at the milestone.
After having examined and re-examined the
fragment, he announced his intention of send-
ing the clerk on a second errand — still with-
out troubling himself to explain what his
incomprehensible instructions meant.
' If I am not mistaken,' he began, ' the
Reading Rooms, in our town, open as early
as nine. Very well. Go to the Rooms this
morning, on the stroke of the clock.' He
stopped, and consulted the letter which lay
open on his bed. ' Ask the librarian,' he
continued, ' for the third volume of Gibbon's
" Dechne and Fall of the Roman Empire."
Open the book at pages seventy-eight and
seventy-nine. If you find a piece of paper
6 BLIND LOVE
between those two leaves, take possession of
it when nobody is looking at you, and bring
it to me. That's all, Dennis. And bear in
mind that I shall not recover the use of my
patience till I see you again.'
On ordinary occasions, the head clerk was
not a man accustomed to insist on what was
due to his dignity. At the same time he
was a sensible human beimj, conscious of the
consideration to which his responsible place
in the office entitled him. Sir Giles's irritat-
ing reserve, not even excused by a word of
apology, reached the limits of his endurance.
He respectfully protested.
' I regret to find, sir,' he said, ' that I have
lost my place in my employer's estimation.
The man to whom you confide the superin-
tendence of your clerks and the transaction
of your business has, I venture to think, some
claim (under the present circumstances) to be
THE PROLOGUE 7
The banker was now offended on Ids side.
' I readily admit your claim,' he answered,
' when you are sitting at your desk in my
office. But, even in these days of strikes,
co-operations, and bank holidays, an employer
has one privilege left — he has not ceased to be
a Man, and he has not forfeited a man's right
to keep his own secrets. I fail to see any-
thing in my conduct which has given you
just reason to complain.'
Dennis, rebuked, made his bow in silence,
Did these acts of humility mean that he
submitted ? They meant exactly the con-
trary. He had made up his mind that Sir
Giles Mountjoy's motives should, sooner or
later, cease to be mysteries to Sir Giles
Carefully following his instruc-
tions, he consulted the third
volume of Gibbon's great History,
and found, between the seventj^-eighth and
seventy-ninth pages, something remarkable
It was a sheet of delicately-made paper,
pierced with a number of little holes, infi-
nitely varied in size, and cut with the
smoothest precision. Having secured this
curious object, while the librarian's back was
turned, Dennis Howmore reflected.
A page of paper, unintelligibly perforated
for some purpose unknown, was in itself a
suspicious thing. And what did suspicion
suggest to tlie inquiring mind in South-
THE PROLOGUE 9
Western Ireland, before the suppression of
tlie Land League ? Unquestionably — Police !
On the way back to his employer, the
banker's clerk paid a visit to an old friend — a
journalist by profession ; and a man of varied
learning and experience as well. Livited to
inspect the remarkable morsel of paper, and
to discover tlie object with which the perfora-
tions had been made, the authority consulted
proved to be worthy of the trust reposed in
him. Dennis left the newspaper-office an
enlightened man — with information at the
disposal of Sir Giles, and with a sense of relief
which expressed itself irreverently in these
words : ' Xow I have got him ! '
The bewildered banker looked backwards
and forwards from the paper to the clerk, and
from the clerk to the paper. ' I don't under-
stand it,' he said. ' Do you ? '
Still preserving the appearance of humility,
Dennis asked leave to venture on a iruess.
lo BLIND LOVE
The perforated paper looked, as he thought,
like a Puzzle. ' If we wait for a day or two,'
he suggested, ' the Key to it may possibly
On the next day, nothing happened. On
the day after, a second letter made another
audacious demand on the fast-failing patience
of Sir Giles Mountjoy.
Even the envelope proved to be a puzzle
on this occasion ; the postmark was 'Ardoon.'
In other words, the writer had used the post-
man as a messenger, while he or his accom-
plice was actually in the town posting the letter
within half a minute's walk of the bank ! The
contents presented an im])enetrable mystery,
the writing looked worthy of a madman.
Sentences appeared in the wildest state of con-
fusion, and words were so mutilated as to be
unintelhgible. This time, the force of circum-
stances was more tlian Sir Giles could resist.
He took the clerk into his confidence at last.
THE PROLOGUE il
' Let US begin at the beginning,' he said.
'There is the letter you saw on my bed, when
I first sent for you. I found it waiting on my
table when I woke ; and I don't know who
put it there. Eead it.'
Dennis read as follows :
' Sir Giles Mountjoy, — I have a disclosure
to make, in which one of the members of your
family is seriously interested. Before I can
venture to explain myself, I must be assured
that I can trust to your good faith. As a
test of this, I require you to fulfil the two con-
ditions that follow — and to do it without the
slightest loss of time. I dare not trust you
yet with my address, or my signature. Any act
of carelessness, on my part, might end fatally
for the true friend who writes these lines. If
you neglect this warning, you will regret it to
the end of your life.'
To the conditions on which the letter in-
sisted there is no need to allude. They had
12 BLIND LOVE
been complied with when the discoveries were
made at the back of the milestone, and be-
tween the pages of Gibbon's History. Sir
Giles had already arrived at the conclu-
sion that a conspiracy was in progress to
assassinate him, and perhaps to rob the
bank. The wiser head clerk pointed to the
perforated paper and the incomprehensible
writing received that morning. ' If we can
find out what these mean,' he said, '^o\\
may be better able, sir, to form a correct
'And who is to do that.^' the banker
' I can but try, sir,' was the modest reply,
'if you see no objection to my making the
Sir Giles approved of the proposed experi-
ment, silently and satirically, by a bend of his
Too discreet a man to make a suspiciously
Liftms the pC7-forated paper, he placed it delicately over the page luhich contained tJic
THE PROLOGUE 13
ready use of the information which he liad
privately obtained, Dennis took care that his
first attempt should not be successful. After
modestly asking permission to try again, he
ventured on the second occasion to arrive at a
happy discovery. Lifting the perforated paper,
he placed it delicately over the page which con-
tained the unintelligible writing. Words and
sentences now appeared (through the holes
in the paper) in their right spelling and
arrangement, and addressed Sir Giles in these
*I beg to thank you, sir, for complying
with my conditions. You have satisfied me
of your good faith. At the same time, it is
possible that you may liesitate to trust a man
who is not yet able to admit you to his
confidence. The perilous position in which I
stand obliges me to ask for two or three days
more of delay, before I can safely make an
appointment with you. Pray be patient — and
14 BLIND LOVE
on no account apply for advice or protection
to the police.'
' Those last words,' Sir Giles declared, ' are
conclusive ! The sooner I am under the care
of the law the better. Take my card to tlie
' May I say a word first, sir ? '
' Do you mean that you don't agree with
' I mean that.'
'You were always an obstinate man,
Dennis ; and it grows on you as you get
older. Never mind ! Let's have it out.
Who do you say is the person pointed at in
these rascally letters ? '
The head clerk took up the first letter of
the two, and pointed to the opening sentence :
'Sir Giles Mountjoy, — I have a disclosure to
make in which one of the members of your
family is seriously interested.' Dennis em-
phatically repeated the words : * one of the
THE PROLOGUE 15
members of your family.' Ilis employer re-
garded liim with a broad stare of astonisli-
' One of the members of my family ? ' Sir
Giles repeated, on liis side. 'Why, man
alive, what are you thinking of? I'm an old
bachelor, and I haven't got a family.'
' There is your brother, sir.'
' My brother is in France — out of the way
of the wretches who are threatening me. I
wish I was with him ! '
'There are your brother's two sons, Sir
' Well ? And what is there to be afraid of?
My nephew, Hugh, is in London — and, mind !
not on a pohtical errand. I hope, before
long, to hear that he is going to be married
— if the strangest and nicest girl in England
will have him. What's wrong now ? '
Dennis explained. ' I only wished to say,
sir, that I was thinking of your other nephew.'
J 6 IBLIND LOVE
Sir Giles laughed. ' Arthur in danger ! '
he exclaimed. 'As harmless a young man as
ever lived. The worst one can say of him is
that he is throwing away his money — farming
" Excuse me, Sir Giles ; there's not much
chance of his throwing away liis money,
where he is now. Nobody will venture to
take his money. I met with one of ]\Ir.
Arthur's neighbours at the market yesterday.
Your nephew is boycotted.'
' So much the better,' the obstinate
banker declared. 'He will be cured of his
craze for farming ; and he will come back to
the place I am keeping for him in the office.'
' God grant it ! ' the clerk said fervently.
For the moment, Sir Giles was staggered.
' Have you heard something that you haven't
told me yet ? ' lie asked.
'No, sir. I am only bearing in mind
something v/hich~with all respect— I think
THE PROLOGUE . ly
you have forgotten. Tlie last tenant on that
bit of land in Kerry refused to pay his rent.
Mr. Arthur has taken what they call an
evicted farm. It's my firm belief,' said tlie
head clerk, rising and speaking earnestly,
' tliat the person who lias addressed those
letters to you knows Mr. Arthur, and knows
he is in danger — and is trying to save your
nephew (by means of your influence), at the
risk of his own life.'
Sir Giles shook his head. ' I call that a
far-fetched interpretation, Dennis. If what
you say is true, why didn't the writer of those
anonymous letters address himself to Arthur,
instead of to me ? '
'I gave it as my opinion just now, sir,
that the writer of the letter knew Mr.
' So you did. And what of that ? '
Dennis stood to his guns.
'Anybody who is acquainted with Mr.
VOL. I. c
i8 BLIND LOVE
Arthur,' lie persisted, ' knows that (witli all
sorts of good qualities) the young gentleman
is headstrong and rash. If a friend told him
he was in danger on the farm, that would be
enough of itself to make him stop where he
is, and brave it out. Whereas you, sir, are
known to be cautious and careful, and far-
seeing and discreet.' He might have added :
And cowardly and obstinate, and narrow-
minded and inflated by stupid self-esteem.
But respect fcr his employer had blindfolded
the clerk's observation for many a long year
past. If one man may be born with the heart
of a lion, another man may be born with the
mind of a mule. Dennis's master w^as one of
the other men.
' Very well put,' Sir Giles answered indul-
gently. ' Time will show, if such an entirely
unimportant person as my nephew Arthur
is likely to be assassinated. That allusion to
one of the members of my family is a mere
THE PROLOGUE 19
equivocation, clesignecl to throw me oft' my
guard. Eank, money, social influence, un-
swerving principles, mark me out as a public
character. Go to the police-office, and let the
best man wlio happens to be oil duty come
Good Dennis Howmore approached the
door very unwillingly. It was opened, from
the outer side, before he had reached that
end of the room. One of the bank porters
announced a visitor.
' Miss Henley wishes to know, sir, if you
can see her.'
Sir Giles looked agreeably surprised. He
rose with alacrity to receive the lady.
20 BLIND LOVE
;HEN Iris Henley dies there will, in
all probability, be friends left who
Avill remember her and talk of her
— and there may be strangers present at the
time (women for the most part), whose curi-
osity will put questions relating to her per-
sonal appearance. No replies will reward
them with trustworthy information. Miss
Henley's chief claim to admiration lay in a
remarkable mobility of expression, which re-
flected every change of feeling pecuhar to the
nature of a sweet and sensitive woman. For
this reason, probably, no descriptions of her
will agree with each other. No existing hke-
nesses will represent her. The one portrait
that was painted of Iris is only recognisable
THE PROLOGUE 21
by partial friends of the artist. In and out of
London, photographic likenesses were taken
of lier. The}^ have the honour of resembling
the portraits of Shakespeare in this respect —
compared with one another, it is not possible
to discover that they present the same person.
As for the evidence offered by the loving
memory of her friends, it is sure to be contra-
dictory in the last degree. She had a charm-
ing face, a commonplace face, an intelligent
face — a poor complexion, a delicate com-
plexion, no complexion at all — eyes that were
expressive of a hot temper, of a bright intel-
lect, of a firm character, of an affectionate
disposition, of a truthful nature, of hysterical
sensibility, of inveterate obstinacy — a figure
too short ; no, just the right height ; no,
neither one thing nor the other ; elegant, if
you like — dress shabby : oh, surely not ; dress
quiet and simple ; no, something more than
that ; ostentatiously quiet, theatrically simple,
22 BLIND LOVE
worn with the object of lookmg imhke other
people. In one last word, was this mass of
contradictions generally popular, in the time
when it was a living creature ? Yes — among
the men. No — not invariably. The man of
all others who ought to have been fondest
of her was the man who behaved cruelly to
Iris — her own father. And, when the poor
creature married (if she did marry), how
many of you attended the wedding ? Xot
one of us ! And when she died, how many of
you were sorry for her ? All of us ! What ?
no difference of opinion in that one parti-
cular? On the contrary, perfect concord,
Let the years roll back, and let Iris speak
for herself, at the memorable time when she
was in the prime of her life, and when a
stormy career was before lier.
THE PROLOGUE 23
EING Miss Henley's godfather, Sir
Giles was a privileged person.
He laid his hairy hands on her
shoulders, and kissed her on either cheek.
After that prefatory act of endearment, he
made his inquiries. What extraordinary
combination of events had led Iris to leave
London, and had brought her to visit him in
his banking-house at Ardoon ?
' I wanted to get away from home,' she
answered ; ' and having nobody to go to but
my godfather, I thought I should like to see
' Alone ! ' cried Sir Giles.
'No — with my maid to keep me com-
54 BLIND LOVE
' Only your maid, Iris ? Surely you have
acquaintances among young ladies like your-
'Acquaintances — yes. No friends.'
*Does your father approve of what you
have done ? '
' Will you grant me a favour, godpapa ? '
' Yes — if I can.'
' Don't insist on my answering your last
The faint colour that had risen in her
face, when she entered the room, left it. At
the same time, the expression of her mouth
altered. The Hps closed firmly ; revealing
that strongest of all resolutions which is
founded on a keen sense of wrong. Slie
looked older than her age : what she might
be ten years hence, she was now. Sir Giles
understood her. He got up, and took a turn
in the room. An old habit, of which he had
cured himself with infinite difficulty when he
THE PROLOGUE 2$
was made a Knight, showed itself again. He
put his hands in his pockets.
' You and your father have had another
quarrel,' he said, stopping opposite Iris.
*I don't deny it,' she replied.
' Who is to blame ? '
She smiled bitterly. ' The woman is
always to blame.'
' Did your father tell you that ? '
'My father reminded me that I was
twenty-one years old, last birthday — and told
me that I could do as I liked. I understood
him, and I left the house.'
' You will go back again, I suppose ? '
' I don't know.'
Sir Giles began pacing the room once
more. His rugged face, telling its story of
disaster and struggle in early life, showed
signs of disappointment and distress.
' Hugh promised to write to me,' he said,
' and he has not written. I know what that
26 BLIND LOVE
means ; I know wliat you have done to offend
your father. My nephew has asked you to
marry hhn for the second thne. And for the
second time you have refused.'
Her face softened ; its better and younger
aspect revived. ' Yes,' she said, sadly and
submissively ; ' I have refused him again.'
Sir Giles lost his temper. ' What the devil
is your objection to Hugh .^ ' he burst out.
'My father said the same thing to me,' she
replied, ' almost in the same words. I made
him angry when I tried to give my reason.
I don't want to make you angry, too.'
He took no notice of this. ' Isn't Hugh a
good fellow ? ' he went on. ' Isn't he affec-
tionate ? and kindhearted ? and honourable ?
— aye, and a handsome man too, if you come
' Hugh is all that you say. I like him ; I
admire him ; I owe to his kindness some of
the liappiest days of my sad life, and I am
THE PROLOGUE 27
grateful — oli, with all my heart, I am grateful
to Hugh ! '
If that's true, Iris-
' Every word of it is true.'
' I say, if that's true — there's no excuse for
3'ou. I hate perversity in a young woman !
Why don't you marry him ? '
' Try to feel for me,' she said gently ; ' I
can't love him.'
Her tone said more to the banker than
her words liad expressed. The secret sorrow
of her life, which was known to her father,
was known also to Sir Giles.
' Xow we have come to it at last ! ' he said.
' You can't love my nephew Hugh. And you
won't tell me the reason wh}^ because your
sweet temper shrinks from making me angry.
Shall I mention the reason for you, my
dear ? I can do it in two words — Lord
She made no reply ; she showed no sign of
aS BLIND LOVE
feeling what he had just said. Her head sank
a little ; her hands clasped themselves on her
lap ; the obstinate resignation which can sub-
mit to anything hardened her face, stiffened
her figure — and that was all.
The banker was determined not to spare
* It's easy to see,' he resumed, ' that you
have not got over your infatuation for that
vagabond yet. Go where he may, into tlie
vilest places and among the lowest people,
he carries your heart along with him. I
wonder you are not ashamed of such an
attachment as that.'
He had stung her at last. She roused
herself, and answered him.
' Harry has led a wild life,' she said ; ' he
has committed serious faults, and he may live
to do worse than he lias done yet. To what
degradation, bad company, and a bad bring-
ing up may yet lead him, I leave his enemies
THE PROLOGUE 29
to foresee. But I tell you this, he has redeem-
ing qualities which you, and people like you,
are not good Christians enough to discover.
He has friends who can still appreciate him —
your nephew, Arthur Mountjoy, is one of them.
Oh, I know it by Arthur's letters to me !
Blame Lord Harry as you may, I tell you he
has the capacity for repentance in him, and one
day — when it is too late, I dare say — he will
show it. I can never be his wife. We are
parted, never in all likelihood to meet again.
Well ! he is the only man whom I have ever
loved ; and he is the only man whom I ever
shall love. If 3^ou think this state of mind
proves that I am as bad as he is, I won't contra-
dict you. Do we any of us know how bad we
are ? — Have you heard of Harry lately ? '
The sudden transition, from an earnest
and devoted defence of the man, to an easy
and famihar inquiry about him, startled Sir
30 BLIND LOVE
For the moment lie had nothing to say ; Iris
had made him think. She had shown a capa-
city for mastering her strongest feehngs, at the
moment when they threatened to overcome her,
which is very rarely found in a young woman.
How to manage her was a problem for patient
resolution to solve. The banker's obstinacy,
rather than his conviction, had encouraged
him to hold to the hope of Hugh's marriage,
even after his nephew had been refused for
the second time. His headstrong goddaughter
had come to visit him of her own accord.
She had not forgotten the days of her child-
hood, when he had some influence over her —
when she had found him kinder to her than
her father had ever been. Sir Giles saw that
he had taken the wrong tone with Iris. His
anger had not alarmed her ; liis opinion had
not influenced her. In Hugh's interests he
determined to try what consideration and
indulgence would do towards cultivating the
growtli of lier regard for him. Finding that
she had left her maid and her lu2f<]^a(?e at tlie
hotel, he hospitably insisted on their removal
to his own house.
' While you are in Ardoon, Iris, you are
my guest,' he said.
She pleased him by readily accepting the
invitation — and then annoyed him by asking
again if he had heard anything of Lord
He answered shortly and sliarply : ' I have
heard nothing. What is your last news of
him ? '
' News,' she said, ' which I sincerely hope
is not true. An Irish paper has been sent to
me, which reports that he has joined the
secret society — nothing better than a society
of assassins, I am afraid — which is known by
the name of the Invincibles.'
32 BLIND LOVE
As she mentioned that formidable brother-
liood, Dennis Howmore returned from the
poHce-office. He announced that a Sergeant
was then waiting to receive instructions from
THE PROLOGUE 33
EIS rose to go. Her godfather
courteously stopped her.
' Wait here,' he said, ' until I
have spoken to the Sergeant, and I will escort
you to my house. My clerk will do what is
necessary at the hotel. You don't look quite
satisfied. Is the arrangement that I have
proposed not agreeable to j^ou .^ '
Iris assured him that she gratefully ac-
ceded to the arrangement. At the same time,
she confessed to having been a little startled
on discovering that he was in consultation with
the police. 'I remember that we are in
Ireland,' she explained, ' and I am foolish
enough to fear that you may be in some
danger. May I hope that it is only a trifle ? '
VOL. I. p
34 BLIND LOVE
Only a trifle ! Among otlier deficient
sensibilities in the strange nature of Iris, Sir
Giles had observed an imperfect appreciation
of the dignity of his social position. Here was
a new proof of it ! The temptation to inspire
sentiments of alarm— not unmingled with
admiration — in the mind of his insensible
god-danghter, by exhibiting himself as a
public character threatened by a conspi-
racy, was more than the banker's vanity
could resist. Before he left the room, he in-
structed Dennis to tell Miss Henley what had
happened, and to let her judge for herself
whether he had been needlessly alarmed
by what she was pleased to call ' a mere
Dennis Howmore must have been more
than mortal, if he could have related his nar-
rative of events without being influenced by
his own point of view. On the first occasion
when he mentioned Arthur Mountjoy's name
THE PROLOGUE 35
Iris showed a sudden interest in liis strange
story which took him by surprise.
' You know Mr. Artliur ? ' he said.
' Know him ! ' Iris repeated. ' He was
my playfellow when we were both children.
He is as dear to me as if he was my brother.
Tell me at once — is he really in danger ? '
Dennis honestly repeated what he had
already said, on that subject, to his master.
]\Iiss Henley, entirely agreeing with him, ^v^as
eager to warn Arthur of his position. There
was no telegraphic communication with the vil-
lage which was near his farm. She could only
write to him, and she did write to him, by that
day's post — having reasons of her own for
anxiety, which forbade her to show her letter
to Dennis. Well aware of the devoted friend-
ship which united Lord Harry and Arthur
Mountjoy — and bearing in mind tlie news-
paper report of the Irish lord's rash association
with the Invincibles — her fears now identified
36 BLIND LOVE
the noble vagabond as tlie writer of the anony-
mous letters, which had so seriously excited
her godfather's doubts of his own safety.
When Sir Giles returned and took her with
him to liis house, he spoke of his consultation
with the Sergeant in terms which increased her
dread of what might happen in the future.
She was a dull and silent guest, during the
interval that elapsed before it would be pos-
sible to receive Arthur's reply. The day
arrived — and the post brought no relief to her
anxieties. The next day passed without a
letter. On the morning of the fourth day.
Sir Giles rose later than usual. His correspond-
ence was sent to him from the office, at break-
fast-time. After opening one of the letters, he
despatched a messenger in hot haste to the
' Look at that,' he said, handing tlie letter
to Iris. ' Does the assassin take me for a
THE PROLOGUE 37
She read the hues that follow :
' Unforeseen events force me, Sir Giles,
to run a serious risk. I must speak to you,
and it must not be by daylight. My one hope
of safety is in darkness. Meet me at the first
milestone, on the road to Garvan, when the
moon sets at ten o'clock to-night. No need
to mention your name. The password is :
' Do you mean to go .^ ' Iris asked.
' Do I mean to ])e murdered ! ' Sir Giles
broke out. * My dear child, do pray try to
think before you speak. The Sergeant will
represent me, of course.'
' And take the man prisoner ? ' Iris added.
' Certainly ! '
With that startling reply, the banker hur-
ried away to receive tlie police in another
room. Iris dropped into the nearest chair.
The turn that the affair had now taken filled
her with unutterable dismay.
38 BLIND LOVE
Sir Giles came back, after no very long
absence, composed and smiling. Tlie course
of proceeding had been settled to his complete
Dressed in private clothes, tlie Sergeant
was to go to the milestone at the appointed
time, representing the banker in the darkness,
and giving the password. He was to be
followed by two of his men who would wait
in concealment, witliin hearing of liis whistle,
if their services were required. ' I want to
see the ruffian wlien he is safely handcufFed,'
Sir Giles explained ; ' and I have arranged to
wait for the police, to-night, at my office.'
There was but one desperate way that Iris
could now discern of saving the man who had
confided in her godfather's honour, and whose
trust had already been betrayed. Never had
she loved the outlawed Irish lord — the man
whom she was forbidden, and rightly for-
bidden, to marry — as she loved him at that
THE PROLOGUE 39
moment. Let the risk be what it miglit, this
resolute woman had determined that the
Sergeant should not be the only person who
arrived at the milestone, and gave the pass-
word. There was one devoted friend to Lord
Harry, whom she could always trust — and
that friend was herself.
Sir Giles withdrew, to look after his busi-
ness at the bank. She waited until the clock
liad struck the servants' dinner hour, and
then ascended tlie stairs to her godfather's
dressing-room. Opening his wardrobe, she
discovered in one part of it a large Spanish
cloak, and, in another part, a liigh-crowned
felt hat which lie wore on his country ex-
cursions. Li the dark, here was disguise
enough for her purpose.
As she left the dressing-room, a measure
of precaution occurred to her, wdiicli she put
in action at once. Telling her maid that she
had some purchases to make in the town, she
40 J3LIND LOVE
went out, and asked her way to Garvan of the
first respectable stranger whom she met m the
street. Her object was to walk as far as the
first milestone, in daylight, so as to be sure of
finding it again by night. She had made her-
self familiar with the different objects on the
road, when she returned to tlie banker's
As the time for the arrest drew nearer, Sir
Giles became too restless to wait patiently at
home. He went away to the police-office,
eager to hear if any new counter-conspiracy
had occurred to the authorities.
It was dark soon after eight o'clock, at
that time of the year. At nine the servants
assembled at the supper-table. They were
all downstairs together, talking, and waiting
for their meal.
Feeling the necessity of arriving at the
place of meeting in time to keep out of the
Serjeant's wav, Iris assumed her diss^uise as
THE PROLOGUE 41
the clock struck nine. She left the house
without a living creature to notice her, in-
doors or out. Clouds were gathering over
tlie sky. The waning moon was only to be
seen at intervals, as she set forth on her Avay
to the milestone.
HE wind rose a
little, and the
rifts in the clouds
began to grow
broader as Iris
gained the high
of the misty
the way before her. As well as she could
guess, she had passed over more than lialf
of the distance between the town and the
milestone before the sky darkened ao-ain. Ob-
THE PROLOGUE 43
jects by the wayside grew sliaclowy and
dim. A few drops of rain began to fall.
The milestone, as she knew — thanks to the
discovery of it made by daylight — was on
the right-hand side of the road. But the dull
grey colour of tlie stone was not easy to see
in the dark.
A doubt troubled her whether she might
not have passed the milestone. She stopped
and looked at the sky.
The threatening of rain had passed away ;
signs showed themselves which seemed to
promise another break in the clouds. She
waited. Low and faint, the sinkino- moonliizlit
looked its last at the dull earth. In front of
her there was nothing to be seen but the
road. She looked back — and discovered the
A rough stone wall protected the land on
either side of the road. Nearly behind the
milestone there was a gap in this fence, par-
44 BLIND LOVE
tially closed by a hurdle. A half-ruined cul-
vert, arching a ditch that had run dry, formed
a bridge leading from the road to the field.
Had the field been already chosen as a place
of concealment by the police ? Nothing was
to be seen but a footpath, and the dusky line
of a plantation beyond it. As she made these
discoveries, the rain began to fall again ; the
clouds gathered once more ; the moonlight
At the same moment an obstacle presented
itself to her mind, which Iris had thus far
failed to foresee.
Lord Harry might approach the milestone
by three different ways : tliat is to say — by
the road from tlie town, or by the road from
the open country, or by way of the field and
the culvert. How could she so place herself
as to be sure of warnins^ him, before he fell
into the liands of tlie police ? To watch the
three means of approach in the obscurity of
THE PROLOGUE 45
the night, and at one and the same time, was
A man in this position, guided by reason,
would in all probability have wasted precious
time in trying to arrive at the rig] it decision.
A woman, aided b}' love, conquered tlie diffi-
culty that confronted her in a moment.
Iris decided on returnino- to the milestone,
and on waiting there to be discovered and
taken prisoner by the police. Suj)posing
Lord Harry to be punctual to his appoint-
ment, he would hear voices and movements,
as a necessary consequence of the arrest, in
time to make his escape. Supposing him on
the other hand to be late, the police would be
on the way back to the town with their
prisoner : he would find no one at the mile-
stone, and would leave it again in safety.
She was on the point of turning, to get
back to the road, when something on the
dark surface of the field, which looked hke a
46 BLIND LOVE
darker shadow, became dimly visible. In an-
other moment, it seemed to be a shadow that
moved. She ran towards it. It looked like
a man as she drew nearer. The man stopped.
' The password,' he said, in tones cautiously
' Fidelity,' she answered in a whisper.
It was too dark for a recognition of his
features ; but Iris knew him by his tall
stature — knew him by the accent in which he
had asked for the password. Erroneously
judging of her, on his side, as a man, he drew
back again. Sir Giles Mountjoy was above
the middle height ; the stranger, in a cloak,
who had whispered to him, was below it.
' You are not the person I expected to meet,'
he said. ^ Who are you ? '
Her faithful heart was longing to tell him
the truth. The temptation to reveal herself
and to make the sweet confession of her
happiness at having saved him, would have
THE PROLOGUE 47
overpowered lier discretion, but for a sound
that was audible on the road behind them.
In the deep silence of tlie time and place, mis-
take was impossible. It was the sound of
There was just time to whisper to him':
' Sir Giles has betrayed you. Save your-
' Thank you, whoever you are ! '
With that reply, he suddenly and swiftly
disappeared. Iris remembered the culvert,
and turned towards it. There was a hidinix-
place under the arch, if she could only get
down into the dry ditch in time. Slie was feel-
ing her Avay to the slope of it with her feet,
when a heavy hand seized her by the
arm ; and a resolute voice said, ' You are
She was led back into the road. The
man who had got her blew a whistle. Two
other men joined him.
48 BLIND LOVE
' Show a ligiit,' lie said ; ' and let's see
who the fellow is.'
The shade was slipped aside from a
lantern : the light fell full on the prisoner's
face. Amazement petrified the two attendant
policemen. The pious Catholic Sergeant burst
into speech : ' Holy Mary ! it's a woman ! '
Did the secret societies of Ireland enrol
women? Was this a modern Judith, express-
infT herself by anonymous letters, and bent on
assassinating a financial Holofernes who kept
a bank ? What account had she to give of
herself? How came she to be alone in
a desolate field on a rainy night ? Instead
of answering these questions, the inscrutable
stranger preferred a bold and brief request.
« Take me to Sir Giles,' was all she said to the
The Sergeant had the handcuffs ready.
After looking at the prisoner's delicate wrists
by the lantern -light, he put his fetters b^ck
THE PROLOGUE 49
in his pocket. ' A lady — and no doubt about
it,' he said to one of his assistants.
The two men waited, with a mischievous
interest in seeing what he would do next.
The list of their pious officer's virtues in-
cluded a constitutional partiality for women,
wliicli exhibited the mercifid side of justice
when a criminal wore a petticoat. ' We will
take you to Sir Giles, miss,' he said — and
offered his arm, instead of offering his hand-
cuffs. Iris understood him, and took liis
Slie was silent— unaccountably silent as
tlie men thought — on the way to the town.
They lieard her sigh ; and, once, the sigh
sounded more like a sob ; little did they sus-
pect what was in that silent woman's mind at
The one object v/hich had absorbed the
attention of Iris had been the savino; of Lord
Harry. This accomplished, the free exercise
VOL. I. E
so BLIND LOVE
of her memory had now reminded her of
It was hnpossible to doubt that the object
of the proposed meeting at the milestone had
been to take measures for the preservation
of the young man's hfe. A coward is always
more or less cruel. The proceedings (equally
treacherous and merciless) by which Sir Giles
had provided for his own safety, had delayed
— perhaps actually prevented — the execution
of Lord Harry's humane design. It was
possible, horribly possible, tliat a prompt
employment of time might have been neces-
sary to the rescue of Arthur from impending
death by murder. In the agitation that over-
powered her, Iris actually hurried the police
on their return to the town.
Sir Giles had arranged to wait for news in
his private room at the office — and there he
was, with Dennis Howmore in attendance to
THE PROLOGUE 51
The Sergeant went into the Ijanker's room
alone, to make his report. He left the door
ajar ; Iris conld hear what passed.
' Have yon got 3'onr prisoner ? ' Sir Giles
' Yes, your honour.'
' Is the wretch securely handcuffed ? '
' I beg your pardon, sir, it isn't a man.'
' Nonsense, Sergeant ; it can't l)e a boy. '
The Sergeant confessed that it was not a
boy. ' It's a woman,' he said.
' What ! ! ! '
' A woman,' the patient officer repeated —
' and a young one. She asked for You.'
' Bring her in.'
Iris was not the sort of person wlio waits
to be brought in. She walked in, of her own
UnSiTY of ILLINOIS
52 BLIND LOVE
'OOD HEAVENS ! ' cried Sir Giles.
' Iris ! With my cloak on ! !
With my hat in her hand ! ! !
Sergeant, there has been some dreadfid mis-
take. This is my goddaughter — Miss Henley.'
'We found her at the milestone, your
honour. The young lady, and nobody else.'
Sir Giles appealed helplessly to his god-
daughter. ' What does this mean ? ' Instead
of answering, she looked at the Sergeant.
The Sergeant, conscious of responsibility,
stood his ground and looked at Sir Giles. His
face confessed that the Irish sense of humour
was tickled ; but he showed no intention of
leaving the room. Sir Giles saw tluit Iris
would enter into no explanation in the man's
THE PROLOGUE 53
presence. ' You needn't wait any longer,' he
' What am I to do, if you please, with the
prisoner ? ' the Sergeant inquired.
Sir Giles waived that unnecessary question
away with his hand. He was trebly respon-
sible — as knight, banker, and magistrate into
tlie bargain. ' I will be answerable,' he
replied, ' for producing Miss Henley, if called
The Sergeant's sense of duty was satisfied.
He made the military salute. His gallantry
added homage to the young lady under the
form of a bow. Then, and then only, he
walked with dignity out of the room.
' Now,' Sir Giles resumed, ' I presume I
may expect to receive an explanation. What
does this impropriety mean ? What were you
doing at the milestone ? '
' I was saving the person who made tlie
appointment with you,' Iris said ; ' tlie poor
54 BLIND LOVE
fellow wlio had no ill-will towards you — who
had risked everything to save your nephew's
life. Oh, sir, you committed a terrible
mistake when you refused to trust that
man ! '
Sir Giles had anticipated the appearance
of fear, and the reality of humble apologies.
She had answered him indignantly, with a
heightened colour, and with tears in her eyes.
His sense of his own social importance was
wounded to the quick. ' Who is the man you
are speaking of ? ' he asked loftily. ' And
what is your excuse for having gone to the
milestone to save him — hidden under my
cloak, disguised in my hat ? '
' Don't waste precious time in asking ques-
tions ! ' was the desperate reply. ' Undo the
harm that you have done already. Your
help — oh, I mean what I say ! — may yet
preserve Arthur's life. Go to the farm, and
THE PROLOGUE 55
Sir Giles's anger assumed a new form ; it
indulged in an elaborate mockery of respect.
He took ]iis watcli from his pocket, and con-
sulted it satirically. ' Must I make an excuse ? '
he asked, with a clumsy assumption of
' No ! you must go.'
' Permit me to inform you, Miss Henley,
that the last train started more than two
' What does that matter ? You are rich
enough to hire a train.'
Sir Giles, the actor, could endure it no
longer ; he dropped the mask, and revealed
Sir Giles, the man. His clerk was summoned
by a peremptory ring of the bell. ' Attend
Miss Henley to the house,' he said. ' You
may come to your senses after a night's rest,'
he continued, turning sternly to Iris. ' I will
receive your excuses in the morning.'
In the mornini?, the breakfast was ready
56 BUND LOVE
as usual at nine o'clock. Sir Giles found
himself alone at the table.
He sent an order to one of the women-
servants to knock at Miss Henley's door.
There was a long delay. The housekeeper
presented herself in a state of alarm ; she had
gone upstairs to make the necessary investi-
gation in her own person. Miss Henley was
not in her room ; tlie maid was not in her
room ; the beds had been slept in ; the
heavy luggage was labelled : 'To be called
for from the hotel.' And there was an end
of the evidence which the absent Iris had left
Inquiries were made at the hotel. The
young lady had called there, with her maid,
early on that morning. They had their travel-
ling-bags with them ; and Miss Henley had left
directions that the luggage was to be placed
under care of the landlord until hei' return.
THE PROLOGUE 57
To what destination she had betaken herself
Sir Giles was too angry to remember what
she had said to him on the previous night, or
he might have guessed at the motive which
had led to her departure. ' Her father has
done with her already,' he said ; ' and I have
done with her now.' The servants received
orders not to admit Miss Henley, if her
audacity contemplated a return to her god-
58 BLIND LOVE
!N the afternoon of the same day, Iris
arrived at the village situated in
the near neighbourhood of Arthur
The infection of political excitement
(otherwise, the hatred of England) had spread
even to this remote place. On the steps of
his little chapel, the priest, a peasant himself,
was haranguing his brethren of the soil. An
Irishman Avho paid his landlord was a traitor
to his country ; an Irishman who asserted his
free birthright in the land that he walked
on was an enlightened patriot. Such was
the new law which the reverend gentleman
expounded to his attentive audience. If his
brethren there would like him to tell them
THE PROLOGUE 59
how they might apply the law, this exem-
plary Christian would point to the faithless
Irishman, Arthur Mountjoy. ' Buy not of
him ; sell not to him ; avoid him if he ap-
proaches you ; starve him out of the place. I
might say more, boys — you know what I mean.'
To hear the latter part of this effort of
oratory, without uttering a word of protest,
was a trial of endurance under which Iris
trembled. The secondary effect of the priest's
address was to root the conviction of Arthur's
danger with tenfold tenacity in her mind.
After what she had just heard, even the
slightest delay in securing his safety might be
productive of deplorable results. She aston-
ished a barefooted boy, on the outskirts of
the crowd, by a gift of sixpence, and asked
her way to the farm. The little Irishman ran
on before her, eager to show the generous
lady how useful he could be. In less than
half an hour, Iris and her maid were at the
66 BLIND LOVE
door of the farm-house. No such civihsed
inventions appeared as a knocker or a belL
The boy used his knuckles instead — and ran
away when he heard the lock of the door
turned on the inner side. He was afraid to
be seen speaking to any living creature wlio
inhabited tlie ' evicted farm.'
A decent old woman appeared, and in-
quired suspiciously ' what the ladies wanted.'
The accent in which she spoke was unmis-
takably English. When Iris asked for Mr.
Arthur Mountjoy the reply was: 'Not at
home.' The housekeeper inhospitably at-
tempted to close the door. ' Wait one
moment,' Iris said. 'Years have changed
you ; but there is something in your face
which is not quite strange to me. Are you
Mrs. Lewson ? '
The woman admitted that this was lier
name. ' But how is it that you are a stranger
to me ? ' she asked distrustfully.
Mrs. Lczusoti s /ace brightc7icd in an instant ; she thrczv the door wide open zvith a glad
cry of recognition.
THE PROLOGUE 6f
'If you have been long in Mr. Mountjoy's
service,' Iris replied, ' you rnay perliaps liave
heard him speak of Miss Henley ? '
Mrs. Lewson's face brightened in an in-
stant ; she threw the door wide open witli a
glad cry of recognition.
' Come in, miss, come in ! Who would
have thought of seeing you in this horrible
place ? Yes ; I was the nurse who looked
after you all three — when you and Mr.
Arthur and Mr. Hugh were playfellows to-
gether.' Her eyes rested longingly on her
favourite of bygone days. The sensitive sym-
pathies of Iris interpreted that look. She
prettily touched her cheek, inviting the nurse
to kiss her. At this act of kindness the poor
old woman broke down : she apologised
quaintly for her tears : ' Think, miss, how 1
must remember that happy time — wlien you
have not forgotten it.'
foiiown into the parlour, the first object
62 BUND LOVE
which the visitor noticed was the letter that
she had written to Arthur lying unopened on
' Then he is really out of the house ? ' she
said, with a feehng of relief.
He had been away from the farm for
a week or more. Had he received a warning
from some other quarter? and had he wisely
sought refuge in flight ? The amazement in
the housekeeper's face, when she heard these
questions, pleaded for a word of explanation.
Iris acknowledged without reserve the mo-
tives which had suggested her journey, and
asked eagerly if she had been mistaken in
assuming that Arthur was in danger of assas-
Mrs. Lewson shook her head. Beyond all
doubt tlie young master was in danger. But
Miss Iris ought to have known his nature
better than to suppose tliat he would beat
a retreat, if all the land-leacruers in Ireland
THE PROLOGUE 63
threatened him together. No ! It was his
bold way to hiiigli at danger. He had left
his farm to visit a friend in the next county ;
and it was shrewdly guessed that a young
lady who was staying in the house was the
attraction wliich had kej^t him so long away.
' Anyliow, he means to come back to-mor-
row,' Mrs. Lewson said. ' I wish he would
think better of it, and make his escape to
England while he has the chance. If the
savages in these parts must slioot somebody,
I'm here — an old woman that can't last much
longer. Let tliem shoot me.'
Iris asked if Arthur's safet}^ was assured
in the next county, and in the house of his
' I can't saj^ miss ; I have never been to
the house. He is in danger if he persists in
coming back to tlie farm. There are chances
of shooting him all along his road liome. Oli,
yes ; he knows it, poor dear, as well as I do.
64 BLIND LOVE
But, there ! — men. like hiiu are sucli perverse
creatures. He takes his rides just as usual.
No ; he won't hsten to an old woman like
me ; and as for friends to advise him, tlie
only one of them that has darkened our
doors is a scamp who had better liave kept
away. You may have heard tell of him.
The old earl, his wicked father, used to be
called by a bad name. And the wild young
lord is his father's true son.'
' Not Lord Harry ? ' Iris exclaimed.
The outbreak of agitation in her tone and
manner was silently noticed by her maid.
The housekeeper did not attempt to conceal
the impression that had been produced upon
her. ' I hope you don't know such a vaga-
bond as thatP' she said very seriously.
' Perhaps you are tliinking of his brother —
the eldest son-~a respectable man, as I liave
been told ? '
Miss Henley passed over these questions
THE PROLOGUE 65
without notice. Urged by the interest in her
lover, whicli was now more than ever an
interest beyond her control, she said : ' Is
Lord Harry in danger, on account of his
friend ? '
' He has nothing to fear from the
wretches who infest our part of the country,'
Mrs. Lewson replied. 'Eejoort says he's one
of themselves. The police — there's what his
young lordship has to be afraid of, if all's
true that is said about him. Anyhow, when
lie paid his visit to my master he came
secretly like a thief in the night. And I
heard Mr. Artliur, while they were together
here in the parlour, loud in blaming him for
something that he had done. No more. Miss,
of Lord Harry ! I have something particular
to say to you. Suppose I promise to make
you comfortable — will you please wait here
till to-morrow, and see Mr. Arthur and speak
VOL. J. F
C6 BLIND LOVE
to him ? If there's a person Hving who can
persuade him to take better care of himself, I
do beheve it will be you.'
Iris readily consented to wait for Arthur
Mountjoy's return. Left together, while Mrs.
Lewson was attending to her domestic duties,
the mistress noticed an appearance of pre-
occupation in the maid's face.
'Are you beginning to wish, Ehoda,' she
said, ' that I had not brought you to this
strange place, among these wild people ? '
The maid was a quiet amiable girl, evi-
dently in delicate health. She smiled faintly.
' I was thinking. Miss, of another nobleman
besides the one Mrs. Lewson mentioned just
now, who seems to liave led a reckless life.
It was printed in a newspaper that I read
before we left London.'
' Was his name mentioned ? ' Iris asked.
' No, Miss ; I suppose they were afraid of
giving offence. He tried so many strange
THE PROLOGUE 67
ways of getting a living — it was almost like
reading a story-book.'
The suppression of the name suggested a
suspicion from which Iris recoiled. Was it
possible that her maid could be ignorantly
alluding to Lord Harry ?
'Do you remember this hero's adven-
tures ? ' she said.
' I can try, Miss, if you wish to hear about
The newspaper narrative appeared to
have produced a vivid impression on Ehoda's
mind. Making; allowance for natural hesita-
tions and mistakes, and difficulties in expres-
sing herself correctly, she repeated with a
singularly clear recollection the substance of
what she had read.
68 BLIND LOVE
I HE principal characters in the story
were an old Irish nobleman, who
was called tlie Earl, and the
youngest of his two sons, mysteriously distin-
guished as ' the wild lord.'
It was said of the Earl that he had not
been a good father ; he had cruelly neglected
both his sons. The younger one, badly
treated at school, and left to himself in the
holidays, began his adventurous career by
running away. lie got employment (under
an assumed name) as a ship's boy. At the
outset, he did well ; learning his work, and
being liked by the Captain and the crew.
But the chief unite was a brutal man, and the
THE PROLOGUE 69
youDg runaway's quick temper resented the
disgraceful infliction of blows. He made up
liis mind to try his luck on shore, and at-
tached himself to a company of strolling
players. Being a handsome lad, with a good
figure and a fine clear voice, he did very well
for a while on the country stage. Hard times
came ; salaries were reduced ; the adventurer
wearied of the society of actors and actresses.
His next change of life presented him in North
Britain as a journalist, employed on a Scotch
newspaper. An unfortunate love-affair was
the means of depriving him of this new occu-
pation. He was recognised, soon afterwards,
serving as assistant-steward in one of the
passenger steamers voyaging between Liver-
pool and New York. Arrived in this last city,
he obtained notoriety, of no very respectable
kind, as a ' medium ' claiming powers of super-
natural communication with the world of
spirits. When the imposture was idtimately
70 BLIND LOVE
discovered, he had gamed money by his un-
worthy appeal to the meanly prosaic super-
stition of modern times. A long interval had
then elapsed, and nothing had been heard of
him, when a starving man was discovered by
a traveller lost on a Western prairie. The ill-
fated Irish lord had associated himself with
an Indian tribe — had committed some offence
against their laws — and had been deliberately
deserted and left to die. On his recovery, he
wrote to his elder brother (who had inherited
the title and estates on the death of the old
Earl) to say that he was ashamed of the life that
he had led, and eager to make amendment by
accepting any honest employment that could
be offered to him. The traveller who had
saved his life, and whose opinion was to be
trusted, declared that the letter represented
a sincerely penitent state of mind. There were
good qualities in the vagabond, which only
wanted a little merciful encouragement to
THE PROLOGUE 71
assert themselves. The reply that he received
from England came from the lawyers employed
by the new Earl. They had arranged with
their agents in Xew York to pay to the yonnger
brother a legacy of a thousand pounds, wliich
represented all that had been left to ]um by
his father's will. If he wrote again, his letters
Avould not be answered ; his brother had done
with him. Treated in this inhuman manner,
the wild lord became once more worthy of his
name. He tried a new hfe as a betting man at
races and trotting-matches. Fortune favoured
him at the outset, and he considerably increased
his legacy. Witli the customary infatuation
of men who gain money by risking the loss
of it, he presumed on his good luck. One
pecuniary disaster followed another, and left
him literally penniless. He was found again,
in England ; exhibiting an open boat, in which
he and a companion had made one of those
foolhardy voyages across tlie Atlantic,
72 BLIND LOVE
which have now happily ceased to interest the
pubhc. To a fiicncl who remonstrated with
him, he answered that he had reckoned on being
lost at sea, and on so committing a suicide
worthy of the desperate life that he had led.
The last accounts of him, after this, were too
vague and too contradictory to be depended
on. At one time it was reported that he had
returned to the United States. Not long after-
wards, unaccountable paragraphs appeared
in newspapers, declaring, at one and the same
time, that he was living among bad company
in Paris, and that he was hiding disreputably
in an ill-famed quarter of the city of Dublin,
called ' The Liberties.' In any case, there was
good reason to fear that Irish-American
desperadoes had entangled the wild lord in the
network of political conspiracy.
The maid noticed a change in the mistress
which surprised her, when she had reached
THE PROLOGUE t>>
the end of the newspaper story. Of Miss
Henley's customary good spirits not a trace
remained. ' Few people, Ehoda, remember
wliat they read as well as you do.' She said
it kindly and sadly — and she said no more.
There was a reason for this.
Xow at one time, and now at another, Iris
liad heard of Lord Harry's faults and faiUngs
in fragments of family history. The complete
record of his degraded life, presented in an
uninterrupted succession of events, had now
forced itself on her attention for the first time.
It naturally shocked her. She felt, as she had
never felt before, how entirely right her father
had been in insisting on her resistance to an
attachment which was unworthy of her. So
far, but no farther, her conscience yielded
to its own conviction of what was just. But
the one unassailable vital force in this world
is the force of love. It may submit to the
hard necessities of life ; it may acknowledge
74 BLIND LOVE
the imperative claims of duty ; it Diay be silent
under reproach, and submissive to privation —
but, suffer what it may, it is the master-passion
still, subject to no artificial influences, owning
no supremacy but the law of its own being.
Iris was above the reach of self-reproach,
when her memory recalled the daring action
which had saved Lord Harry at the milestone.
Her better sense acknowledged Hugli Mount-
joy's superiority over the otlier man — but her
heart, her perverse heart, remained true to its
first choice in spite of her. She made an im-
patient excuse, and went out alone, to recover
her composure in the farm-house garden.
The hours of the evening passed slowly.
There was a pack of cards in the house ;
the women tried to amuse themselves, and
failed. Anxiety about Arthur preyed on
the spirits of Miss Henley and Mrs. Lewson.
Even the maid, who had only seen him during
his last visit to London, said she wished to-
THE PROLOGUE 75
morrow liad come and gone. Ilis sweet
temper, his handsome face, his Hvely talk had
made Arthur a favourite everywhere. Mrs.
Lewson had left her comfortable English home
to be his housekeeper, when he tried his rash
experiment of farming in Ireland. And, more
wonderful still, even wearisome Sir Giles
became an agreeable person in his nephew's
Iris set the example of retiring at an early
hour to her room.
There was something terrible in the pas-
toral silence of the place. It associated itself
mysteriously with her fears for Arthur ; it
suggested armed treachery on tiptoe, taking
its murderous stand in hidincf ; the whistlinfjr
passage of bullets through the air; tlie pierc-
ing cry of a man mortally wounded ; and that
man perhaps ? Iris shrank from her own
horrid thought. A momentary faintness
overcame her ; she opened the window. As
76 BUND LOVE
slie put her head out to breathe the cool night
air, a man on horseback rode up to the house.
Was it Arthur ? Xo : the hght-coloured
groom's hvery that he wore was just visible.
Before he could dismount to knock at the
door, a tall man walked up to him out of the
'Is that Miles .^ ' tlie tall man asked.
The groom knew the voice. Iris was even
better acquainted with it. She, too, recog-
nised Lord Harrv. v
lord — at
to see him
more, never to
tliink of him as
lier husband again
— reminding her
of the first days of
their love, and of their mutual confession of
it ! Fear of herself kept her behind the cur-
79 BLIND LOVE
tain ; wliile interest in Lord Harry detained
her at tlie window in hidinc^.
' All well at Eathco P ' he asked — men-
tioning the name of the house in which Arthur
was one of the guests.
' Yes, my lord. Mr. Mountjoy leaves us
' Does he mean to return to the farm .^ '
' Sorry I am to say it ; he does mean
' Has he fixed any time, Miles, for starting
on his journey ? '
Miles instituted a search through his
pockets, and accompanied it by an explana-
tion. Yes, indeed. Master Arthur had fixed a
time ; he had written a note to say so to Mis-
tress Lewson the housekeeper ; lie had said,
' Drop the note at the farm, on your way to the
village.' And what might Miles want at the
village, in the dark ? Medicine, in a hurry,
for one of his master's horses that was sick
THE PROLOGUE 78
and sinking. And, speaking of that, here,
thank God, was the note !
Iris, hstening and watching alternately,
saw to her surprise the note intended for Mrs.
Lewson handed to Lord Harry. ' Am I ex-
pected,' he asked jocosely, ' to read writing
without a light ? ' Miles produced a small
lantern which was strapped to his groom's
belt. ' There's parts of the road not over safe
in the dark,' he said as he raised the shade
which guarded the light. The wild lord
coolly opened the letter, and read the few
careless words which it contained. 'To Mrs.
Lewson : — Dear old girl, expect me back to-
morrow to dinner at three o'clock. — Yours,
There was a pause.
' Are there any strangers at Eathco P '
Lord Harry asked.
' Two new men,' Miles replied, ' at work
in the ^rounds.'
8o BLIND LOVE
There was another pause. ' How can I
protect him ? ' the young lord said partly to
liimself partly to Miles. He suspected the
two new men — s])ies ])robably wlio knew of
Arthur's proposed journey home, and -wlio
liad already reported to tlieir employers the
hour at whicli he would set out.
Miles ventured to say a word : ' I hope
you won't be angry with me, my lord '
' Stuff and nonsense ! Was I ever angry
with you, when I was rich enough to keep a
servant, and when you were the man ? '
The Irish groom answered in a voice
that trembled with strong feeling. 'You
were the best and kindest master that ever
hved on this eartli. I can't see you putting
your precious life in peril '
' My precious life ? ' Lord Harry repeated
lightly. ' You're thinking of Mr. Mountjoy,
when you say tliat. 77/^' life is worth saving.
As for my life ' He ended tlie sen-
THE PROLOGUE 8i
tence by a wliistle, as the best way he could
hit on of expressing his contempt for his OAvn
' My lord ! my lord I ' Miles persisted ;
' the Invincibles are beginning to doubt you.
If any of them find j^ou hanging about Mr.
Mount joy's farm, they'll try a shot at you
first, and ask afterwards whether it was right
to kill you or not.'
To hear this said— and said seriously —
after the saving of him at the milestone, was
a trial of her firmness which Iris was unable
to resist. Love got the better of prudence.
She drew back the Avindow-curtain. In
another moment, she would have added her
persuasion to the servant's warning, if Lord
Harry himself had not accidentally checked
her by a proceeding, on his part, for which
she was not prepared.
' Show the light,' he said ; ' I'll write a line
to Mr. Mountjoy.'
VOL. I. G
82 BLIND LOVE
He tore off the blank page from the note
to the housekeeper, and wrote to Arthur,
entreathig him to change the time of his de-
parture from Eathco, and to tell no creature
in the house, or out of the house, at what
new hour he had arranged to go. ' Saddle
your horse yourself,' the letter concluded.
It was written in a feigned hand, Avitliout a
' Give that to Mr. Mountjoy,' Lord Harry
said. ' If he asks who wrote it, don't frighten
him about me by telling the truth. Lie,
Miles ! Say you don't know.' He next re-
turned the note for Mrs. Lewson. 'If she
notices that it has been opened,' he resumed,
' and asks who has done it, lie again. Good-
nisfht. Miles — and mind those dan£>"erous
places on your road liomc.'
The groom darkened his lantern ; and the
wild lord was lost to view, round the side of
THE PROLOGUE 83
Left by himself, Miles rapped at the door
with the handle of his whip. ' A letter from
Mr. Arthur,' he called out. Mrs. Lewson at
once took the note, and examined it by the
light of the candle on the hall-table. ' Some-
body has been reading this ! ' she exclaimed,
stepping out to the groom, and showing him
the torn envelope. Miles, promptly obeying
his instructions, declared that he knew nothing
. about it, and rode away.
Iris descended the stairs, and joined Mrs.
Lewson in the hall before she 4iad closed the
door. The housekeeper at once produced
' It's on my mind. Miss,' she said, • to WTite
an answer, and say something to Mr. Arthur
which wnll persuade him to take care of him-
self, on his w^ay back to tlie farm. The
difficulty is, how am I to expiress it? You
would l)e doing; a kind thino; if you would
liive me a word of advice.'
84 BLIND LOVE
Iris willingly complied. A second note,
from the anxious housekeeper, might help the
effect of the few lines which Lord Harry had
Arthur's letter informed Iris that he had
arranged to return at three o'clock. Lord
Harry's question to the groom, and the man's
reply, instantly recurred to her memory :
' Are there any strangers at Eathco P '■ — ' Two
new men at work in the grounds.' Arriving
at the same conclusion which had already
occurred to Lord Harry, Iris advised the
liousekeeper, in writing to Arthur, to entreat
him to change the hour, secretly, at which
he left his friend's house on tlic next day.
Warmly approving of this idea, Mrs. Lewson
hurried into the parlour to write her letter.
' Don't go to bed yet. Miss,' she said ; ' I want
you to read it before I send it away the first
thincf to-morrow mornino'.'
Left alone in the halh witli tlie door open
THE PROLOGUE 85
before her, Iris looked out on the niglit,
The hves of the two men in whom slie
was interested — in widely different ways —
were now both threatened ; and the imminent
danger, at that moment, was the danger of
Lord Harry. He was an outlaw whose cha-
racter W'Ould not bear investigation ; but, to
give him his due, there was no risk which he
was not ready to confront for Arthurs sake.
If he was still recklessly lingering, on the
watch for assassins in the danegerous neigh-
bourhood of the farm, who but herself pos-
sessed the influence which would prevail on
him to leave the place? She had joined Mrs.
Lewson at the door with that conviction in
her mind. In another instant, she was out
of the liouse, and bea-inninii" her search in the
Iris made the round of the building ;
sometimes feeling her way in obscure places,
86 BLIND LOVE
sometimes calling to Lord Harry cautiously
by liis name. No living creature appeared ;
no sound of a inovement disturbed tlie still-
ness of tlie night. The discovery of his ab-
sence, wliich she had not dared to hope for,
was the cheering discovery which she had
On her way back to the house, she
became conscious of the rashness of the act
into which her own generous impulse liad
If she and Lord Harry had met, could she
have denied the tender interest in him which
her own conduct would then have revealed ?
Would he not have been justified in con-
cluding that she had pardoned the errors and
the vices of his life, and that he ]night with-
out impropriety remind her of their engage^
ment, and claim her hand in marriage? She
trembled as she tliought of the concessions
which lie mi^-ht have wruno' from her.
THE PROLOGUE 87
' Never more,' she determined, ' shall my own
folly be answerable for it, if he and I meet
She had returned to Mrs. Lewson, and
had read over the letter to Arthur, when the
farm clock, striking the hour, reminded them
that it was time to retire. They slept badly
At six in the morning, one of the two
labourers who had remained faithful to
Arthur was sent away on horseback with the
housekeeper's reply, and with orders to wait
for an answer. Allowing time for oivino: the
horse a rest, the man might be expected to
return before noon.
88 BLIND LOVE
^T was a fine sunshiny day ; Mrs.
Lewson's spirits began to improve.
' I have always held the belief,' the
worthy old woman confessed, ' that bright
weather brings good luck — of course pro-
vided the day is not a Friday. This is
Wednesday. Cheer up. Miss.'
The messenger returned with good news.
Mr. Arthur had been as merry as usual. He
had made fun of another letter of good
advice, received without a signature. ' But
Mrs. Lewson must have her way,' he said.
' My love to tlie old dear — I'll start two hours
later and be back to dinner at five.'
'Where did Mr. Arthur give you that
message ? ' Iris inquired.
THE PROLOGUE 89
' At the stables, Miss, while I was putting
up the horse. The men about were all on tlie
broad grin when they heard Mr. Arthur's
Still in a morbid state of mind, Iris
silently regretted that tlie message had not
been written, instead of being delivered by
word of mouth. Here, again, she (like the
wild lord) had been afraid of hsteners.
The hours wore slowly on until it was
past four o'clock. Iris could endure the sus-
pense no longer. ' It's a lovely afternoon,' she
said to Mrs. Lewson. ' Let us take a walk
along the road, and meet Arthur.' To this
proposal the housekeeper readily agreed.
It w^as nearly five o'clock when they
reached a place at which a by-road branched
off, through a wood, from the highway which
they had hitlierto followed. Mrs. Lewson
found a seat on a felled tree. ' We had
better not go any farther,' she said.
90 BLIND LOVE
Iris asked if there was any reason for
There was an excellent reason. A few
yards farther on, the high road had been
diverted from the straight line (in the interest
of a large agricultural village), and was then
directed again into its former course. The
by-road through the wood served as a short
cut, for horsemen and pedestrians, from one
divergent point to the other. It was next to
a certainty that Arthur would return by the
short cut. But, if accident or caprice led to
his preferring the highway, it was clearly
necessary to wait for him within view of both
Too restless to submit to a state of pas-
sive expectation. Iris proposed to follow the
bridle-path through the wood for a little way,
and to return if she failed to see anything of
Arthur. ' You are tired,' she said kindly
to her companion ; ' pray don't move '
THE PROLOGUE 91
Mrs. Lewson looked needlessly uneasy :
' You might lose yourself, Miss. Mind you
keep to the patli ! '
Iris followed the pleasant windings of the
woodland track. In the liope of meeting
Arthur she considerably extended the lengtli
of her walk. The wliite line of the higli road,
as it passed the farther end of the wood,
showed itself through the trees. She turned
at once to rejoin Mrs. Lewson.
On her way back she made a discovery.
A ruin which she had not previously noticed
showed itself amonsf the trees on her left
hand. Her curiosity was excited ; she
strayed aside to examine it more closely.
The crumbling walls, as she approached
them, looked like the remains of. an ordinary
dwelhng-house. Age is essential to the
picturesque effect of decay ; a modern ruin
is an unnatural and depressing object — and
here the horrid thincr was.
92 BLIND LOVE
As she turned to retrace lier steps to ilie
road, a man walked out of the inner space
enclosed by all that was left of the dismantled
house. A cry of alarm escaped her. Was
she the victim of destiny, or the sport of
chance .^ There was the wild lord whom she
had vowed never to see ao-ain : the master of
her heart — perhaps the master of her fate !
Any other man Avould have been amazed
to see her, and would have asked how it had
happened tliat the English lady presented
lierself to liini in an Irish wood. This man
enjoyed the delight of seeing her, and ac-
cepted it as a blessing that was not to be
questioned. ' My angel has dropped from
Heaven,' he said. ' May Heaven be praised ! '
He approached her ; his arms closed
round her. She struggled to free herself
from his embrace. At that moment they
both heard the crackle of breakinc^ under-
wood amonu the trees behind them. Lord
THE PROLOGUE 93
Harry looked round. ' This is a dangerous
place,' he whispered ; ' I'm waiting to sec
Arthur pass safely. Submit to be kissed, or
I am a dead man.' His eyes told lier that lie
was truly and fearfully in earnest. Her head
sank on his bosom. As he bent down and
kissed her, three men approached from their
hiding-place among the trees. They had no
doubt been watching him, under orders from
the murderous brotherhood to which they
belonged. Their pistols were ready in their
hands — and what discovery had they made ?
There was the brother who had been de-
nounced as having betrayed them, guilty of
no worse treason than meeting liis sweetheart
in a wood I ' We beg your pardon, my lord,'
they cried with a thoroughly Irish enjoyment
of their own discomfiture — and burst into a
roar of laughter — and left the lovers together.
For the second time, Iris had saved Lord
Harry at a crisis in liis life.
94 BLIND LOVE
' Let me go ! ' she pleaded faintly, trem-
bling with superstitious fear for the first time
in her experience of herself.
He held her to him as if he would never
let her go again. ' Oli, my Sweet, give me a
last chance. Helj:) me to be a better man !
You have only to will it, Iris, and to make
me worthy of you.'
His arms suddenly trembled round her,
and dropped. The silence was broken by a
distant sound, like the report of a shot. He
looked towards the farther end of the Avood.
In a minute more, the thump of a horse's
hoofs at a gallop was audible, where the
bridle-path was hidden among the trees. It
came nearer — nearer — the creature burst
into view, wild with fright, and carrying an
empty saddle. Lord Harry rushed into the
path, and seized the horse as it swerved at
the sight of liim. There was a leather pocket
attached to the front of the saddle. ' Searcli
She drczv out a silver travellins-fask. One fiance at the navie engraved on it told him the
' THE PROLOGUE 95
it!' lie cried to Iris, forcing tlic terrified
animal back on its haunches. She drew out
a silver travellini>'-flask. One aiance at the
name engraved on it told him the terrible
truth. His trembling hands lost their hold.
The horse escaped ; the words burst from his
' Oh, God, they've killed him ! '
THE END OF THE PROLOGUE
THE SOUR FRENCH WIXE
HILE the line to be taken by the
new railway between Cnlni and
Everill was still under discussion,
the engineer caused some difference of opinion
among the moneyed men who were the first
Directors of the Company, by asking if they
proposed to include among their stations the
little old town of Honey buzzard.
For years past, commerce had declined,
and population had decreased in tliis ancient
and curious place. Painters knew it well,
VOL. I. H
98 BUND LOVE
and prized its media3val lioiises as a mine
of valuable material for tlieir art. Persons
of cultivated tastes, who were interested in
church architecture of the fourteenth centur}^
sometimes pleased and flattered the Piector by
subscribing^ to his fund for the restoration of
the tower, and the removal of tlie accumulated
rubbish of hundreds of years from the crypt.
Small speculators, not otherwise in a state of
insanity, settled themselves in the town, and
tried the desperate experiment of opening a
shop ; spent their little capital, put up the
shutters, and disappeared. The old market-
place stiir showed its list of market-laws, issued
by the Mayor and • Corporation in the pros-
perous bygone times ; and every week there
were fewer and fewer people to obey the laws.
The great empty enclosure looked more
cheerful wlien there was no market held, and
when the boys of the town played in tlie
deserted place. In the last warehouse left in
THE SOUR FRENCH WINE 99
a state of repair, the crane was generally idle ;
the windows were mostly sliut up ; and a
solitary man represented languishing trade,
idling at a half-opened d'oor. The muddy
river rose and fell with tlie distant tide. At
rare intervals a collier discharged its cargo on
the mouldering quay, or an empty barge took
in a load of hay. One bold house advertised,
in a dirty window, apartments to let. There
was a lawyer in the town, who had no occa-
sion to keep a clerk ; and there was a doctor
who hoped to sell his practice for anythino-
that it would fetch. The directors of the new
railway, after a stormy meeting, decided on
offering (by means of a station) a last chance
of revival to the dying town. The town had
not vitahty enough left to be grateful; the
railway stimulant produced no effect. Of all
his colleagues in Great Britain and Ireland,
the station-master at Honeybuzzard was the
idlest man — and this, as he said to the uneni-
ICO BLIhW LOVE
ployed porter, through no want of energy on
his own part.
Late on a rainy autumn afternoon, the
slow train left one traveller at the station.
He got out of a first-class carriage ; he carried
an umbrella and a travelling-bag ; and he
asked his way to the best inn. The station-
master and the porter compared notes. One
of them said : ' Evidently a gentleman.' The
other added: 'What can he possibly want
here ? '
The stranger twice lost his way in tlie
tortuous old streets of the town before he
reached the inn. On giving liis orders, it ap-
peared that he wanted three things : a private
room, something to eat, and, while the dinner
was being cooked, materials for writing a
Answering her daughter's questions down-
stairs, the landlady described her guest as a
nice-looking man dressed in deep mourning.
THE SOUR FRENCH WINE loi
' Young, my clear, with beautiful dark brown
hair, and a grand beard, and a sweet sorrowful
look. Ah, his eyes would tell anybody that
his black clothes are not a mere sham. Whe-
ther married or single, of course I can't say.
But I noticed the name on his travelhng bag.
A distinguished name, in my opinion — Hugh
Mountjoy. I wonder what he'll order to drink
when he has his dinner? What a mercy it
will be if we can get rid of another bottle of
the sour French wine ! '
The bell in the private room rang at that
moment ; and the landlady's daughter, it is
needless to say, took the opportunity of form-
ing her own opinion of Mr. Hugh Mountjoy.
' She returned with a letter in her hand,
consumed by a vain longing for the advan-
tages of gentle birth. ' Ah, mother, if I was
a young lady of the higher classes, I know
whose wife I should like to be ! ' Not par-
ticularly interested in sentimental aspirations.
102 BLIND LOVE
the landlady asked to see Mr. Mountjoy's
letter. Tlie messenger who delivered it was
to wait for an answer. It Avas addressed to :
' Miss Henley, care of Clarence Yimpany,
Esquire, Honey buzzard.' Urged by an excited
imagination, the daughter longed to see Miss
Henley. The mother was at a loss to under-
stand why Mr. Mountjoy should have troubled
himself to write the letter at all. ' If he knows
the young lady Avho is staying at the doctor's
house,' she said, ' why doesn't he call on Miss
Henley?' She handed the letter back to her
daughter. ' There ! let the ostler take it ; he's
fyot nothing; to do.'
'No, mother. The ostler's dirty hands
mustn't touch it — I'll take the letter myself.
Perhaps I may see Miss Henley.' Such was
the impression which Mr. Hugh Mountjoy had
innocently produced on a sensitive young
person, condemned by destiny to the barren
sphere of action all'orded by a country inn !
THE SOUR FRENCH WINE 103
The landlady lierself took tlie dinner up-
stairs — a first course of mutton cliops and
potatoes ; cooked to a degree of imperfection
only attained in an English kitchen. The sour
French wine was still on the good woman's
mind. 'What would you choose to drink,
sir?' slie asked. Mr. Mountjoy seemed to
feel no interest in what he might have to
drink. ' We have some French wine, sir.'
' Thank you, ma'am ; that will do.'
When tlie bell rani? ao-ain, and the time
came to produce the second course of cheese
and celery, the landlady allowed the waiter to
take her place. Her experience of the farmers
who frequented the inn, and who had in some
few cases been induced to taste the wine,
warned her to anticipate an outbreak of just
anger from Mr. Mountjoy. He, like the
others, would probably ask what she ' meant
by poisoning him with such stuff as that ? ' On
the return of the waiter, she put the question :
I04 BLIND LOVE
' Did the gentleman complain of the French
wine ? '
' He wants to see you about it, ma'am/
The landlady turned pale. The expression
of Mr. Mountjoy's indignation was evidently
reserved for the mistress of the house. ' Did
he swear,' she asked, ' when he tasted it ? '
' Lord bless you, ma'am, no ! Drank it out
of a tumbler, and — if you will believe me —
actually seemed to like it.'
The landlady recovered her colour. Grati-
tude to Providence for having sent a customer
to the inn, who could drink sour wine without
discovering it, was the uppermost feeling in
her ample bosom as she entered the private
room. Mr. Mountjoy justified her anticipa-
tions. He was simple enough — with his
tumbler before him, and the wine as it were
under his nose — to begin with an apology.
' I am sorry to trouble you, ma'am. May
I ask where you got this wine ? '
■ THE SOUR FRENCH WINE 105
' The wine, sir, was one of my late hus-
band's bad debts. It was all he could get
from a Frenchman who owed liim money.'
' It's worth money, ma'am.'
' Indeed, sir ? '
' Yes, indeed. This is some of tlie fmest
and purest claret that I have tasted for many
a long day past.'
An alarming suspicion disturbed the se-
renity of the landlady's mind. Was this ex-
traordinary opinion of the Avine sincere ? Or
was it Mr. Mountjoy's wicked design to entrap
her into praising her claret, and then to imply
that she was a cheat by declaring what lie
really thought of it ? She took refuge in a
cautious reply :
' You are the first gentleman, sir, who has
not found fault with it.'
' In that case, perhaps you would like to
get rid of the wine ? ' Mr. Mountjoy sug-
io6 BLIND LOVE
Tlie landlady was still cautious. ' Who
will buy it of me, sir ? '
' I will. How mucli do you charge for it
by the bottle ? '
It was, by this time, clear that lie was not
mischievous — only a little crazy. The, worldly-
wise hostess took advantage of that circum-
stance to double the price. Without hesita-
tion, she said : ' Five shillings a bottle, sir.'
Often, too often, the irony of circumstances
brings together, on this earthly scene, the
opposite types of vice and virtue. A lying
landlady and a guest incapable of deceit were
looking at each other across a narrow table ;
equally unconscious of the immeasurable moral
gulf that lay between them. Influenced by
honourable feeling, innocent Hugh Mountjoy
lashed the landlady's greed for money to the
full-gallop of human cupidity.
' I don't think you are aware of the value
of your wine,' he said. 'I have claret in my
THE SOLR FRENCH WIAE. 107
cellar wliicli is not so o-oocl as tliis, and wliicli
costs more than you have asked. It is only
fair to offer you seven-and-sixpence a bottle.'
Wlien an eccentric traveller is asked to
pay a price, and deliberately raises that price
against himself, where is the sensible woman
— especially if she happens to be a widow
conducting an unprofitable business — who
would hesitate to improve the opportunity ?
The greedy landlady raised her terms.
' On reflection, sir, I think I ought to have
ten shillings a bottle, if you please.'
' The wine may be worth it,' Mountjoy
answered quietly ; ' but it is more than I can
afford to pay. No, ma'am ; I will leave you
to find some lover of o-ood claret with a lono-er
purse than mine.'
It was in this man's character, when he said
Xo, to mean No. Mr. Mountjoy 's hostess per-
ceived that her crazy customer was not to be
trifled with. She lowered her terms a^'ain with
io8 BLIND LOVE
tlie headlong hurry of terror. ' You shall have
it, sir, at your own price,' said this entirely
shameless and perfectly respectable woman.
The bargain having been closed under
these circumstances, the landlady's daughter
knocked at the door. 'I took your letter
myself, sir,' she said modestly ; ' and here is
the answer.' (She had seen Miss Henley, and
did not think much of her.) Mountjoy
offered the expression of his thanks, in words
never to be forgotten by a sensitive young
person, and opened his letter. It was short
enou<ih to be read in a moment ; but it was
evidently a favourable reply. He took his hat
in a hurry, and asked to be shown the way to
Mr. Vimpany's house.
THE MAN SHE REFUSED
H o n e y b u z-
zard, as soon
as he heard
that Miss Hen-
ley was staying
in that town.
Having had no
tnnity of pre-
paring her to
see him, he had
no BLIND LOVE
considerately written to her from the inn, in
preference to presenting himself unexpectedly
at the doctor's house. How would slie re-
ceive the devoted friend, whose proposal of
marriage she had refused for the second time,
when they had last met in London ?
The doctor's place of residence, situated
in a solitary by-street, commanded a view,
not perhaps encouraging to a gentleman who
followed the medical profession : it was a
view of the churchyard. The door w^as
opened by a w^oman-servant, Avho looked sus-
piciously at the stranger. Without waiting to
be questioned, she said her master was out.
• Mountjoy mentioned his name, and asked
for Miss Henley.
' The servant's manner altered at once for
the better ; she showed him into a small
drawing-room, scantily and cheaply furnished.
Some poorly- framed prints on the walls (a little
out of place, perhaps, in a doctor's house)
Impulsively she dreiv his head dozvn.
THE MAN SHE REEUSED m
represented portraits of famous actresses, ^vllo
had been queens of the stage in the early part
of the present centur3\ The few books, too,
collected on a little shelf above the chimney-
piece, were in every case specimens of dra-
matic literature. ' Who reads these plays P'
Mountjoy asked himself. ' And how did Iris
lind her way into this house ? '
While he was thinking of her, Miss Henley
entered the room.
Her face was pale and careworn ; teai-s
dimmed her eyes when Mountjoy advanced to
meet ]]er. In his presence, the horror of his
brother's death by assassination sliook Iris as
it had not shaken her yet. Impulsively, she
drew his head down to her, with the fond
familiarity of a sister, and kissed his foreliead.
.'Oh, Hugh, I know how you and Arthur loved
each other ! Xo words of mhie can say how
I feel for 3'ou.'
' Xo words are wanted, my dear,' he
112 BLIND LOVE
answered tenderly. ' Your sympathy speaks
He led her to the sofa and seated himself
by her side. 'Your father has shown me
what you have written to him,' he resumed ;
' your letter from Dublin and your second
letter from this place. I know what you
have so nobly risked and suffered in poor
Arthur's interests. It will be some consola-
tion to me if I can make a return — a very poor
return, Iris — for all that Arthur's brother owes
to the truest friend that ever man had. No,'
he continued, gently interrupting the expres-
sion of her gratitude. ' Your father has not
sent me here — but he knows that I have left
London for the express purpose of seeing j^ou,
and he knows why. You have written to him
dutifully and affectionately ; you have pleaded
for pardon and reconciliation, when he is to
blame. Shall I venture to tell you how he
answered me, when I asked if he had no faith
left in his own child ? " Hugh," he said, " you
are wasting words on a man whose mind is
made up. I will trust my daughter when
that Irisli lord is laid in his grave — not before."
That is a reflection on you, Iris, whicli I can-
not permit, even when your father casts it,
He is hard, he is unforgiving ; but he must,
and shall, be conquered yet. I mean to
make him do you justice ; I have come
liere with that purpose, and that purpose
only, in view. May I speak to you of Lord
Harry ? '
' How can you doubt it ? '
' My dear, tliis is a delicate subject for mc
to enter on.'
* And a shameful subject for Me!' Iris
broke out bitterly. ' Hugh ! you are an
angel, by comparison with that man — how
debased I must be to love him— how unworthy
of your good opinion ! Ask me anything you
like; have no mercy on me. Oli,' she cried,
VOL. I. I
114 BLIND LOVE
with reckless contempt for herself, ' why don't
you beat me ? I deserve it ! '
Mouiitjoy was well enough acquainted
with the natures of women to pass over
that passionate outbreak, instead of fanning
the flame in her by reasoning and remon-
' Your father will not listen to the ex-
pression of feeling,' he continued ; ' but it is
possible to rouse his sense of justice by the
expression of facts. Help me to speak to
him more plainly of Lord Harry than you
could speak in your letters. I want to know
what has happened, from the time when
events at Ardoon brought you and the young
lord together again, to the time when you
left him in Ireland after my brother's death.
If I seem to expect too much of you. Iris,
pray remember that I am speaking with a
true regard for your interests.'
In those words, he made his o'enerous
THE MAN SHE REFUSED 115
appeal to her. She proved herself to be
worthy of it.
Stated briefly, the retrospect began with
the mysterious anonymous letters whicli had
been addressed to Sir Giles.
Lord Harry's explanation had been offered
to Iris gratefully, but with some reserve, after
she had told him who the stranger at the
milestone really was. 'I entreat you to par-
don me, if I shrink from entering into parti-
culars,' he had said. ' Circumstances, at the
time, amply justified me in the attempt to use
the banker's political influence as a means of
securing Arthur's safety. I knew enough of
Sir Giles's mean nature to be careful in trust-
ing him ; but I did hope to try what my per-
sonal influence might do. If he had possessed
a tenth part of your courage, Arthur miglit
have been alive, and safe in England, at this
moment. I can't say any more ; I daren't
ii6 BLIND LOVE
say any more ; it maddens me when I think
of it ! ' He abruptly changed tlie subject,
and interested Lis by speaking of otlier
and later events. Ilis association with the
Invincibles — inexcusably rash and wicked as
he himself confessed it to be — had enabled him
to penetrate, and for a time to defeat secretly
the murderous designs of the brotherhood.
His appearances, first at the farmhouse and
afterwards at the ruin in tlie wood, were
referable to changes in the plans of the
assassins which had come to his knowledge.
When Iris had met with him he was ou the
watch, beUeving that his friend w^ould take
the short way back through the wood, and
well aware that -his own life might pay the
penalty if he succeeded in warning Arthur.
After the terrible discovery of the murder
(committed on the high road), and the escape of
the miscreant who had been guilty of the crime,
the parting of Lord Harry and Miss Henley
THE MAN SHE REFUSED 117
had been the next event. She had left hiin,
on her return to England, and had refused to
consent to any of the future meetings between
them which he besought her to grant.
At this stage in the narrative, Mountjoy
felt compelled to ask questions more search-
ing than he had put to Iris yet. It was pos-
sible that she might be trusting her own
impressions of Lord Harry, with the ill-
placed confidence of a woman innocently
8 elf- deceived.
' Did he submit willingly to your leaving
him ? ' Mountjoy said.
' Not at first,' she replied.
'Has he released you from that rash engage-
ment, of some years since, which pledged you
to marry him ? '
' Did he allude to the engagement, on this
ii8 BLIND LOVE
' He said he held to it as the one hope of
' And what did you say ? '
' I implored him not to distress me.'
' Did you say nothing more positive than
that ? '
' I couldn't help thinking, Hugh, of all
that he had tried to do to save Arthur. But
I insisted on leaving him — and I have left
' Do you remember what he said at part-
' He said, " "While I live, I love you." '
As she repeated the words, there was an
involuntary change to tenderness in her voice
which was not lost on Mountjoy.
' I must be sure,' he said to her gravely,
' of what I tell your father when I go back to
him. Can I declare, with a safe conscience,
that you will never see Lord Harry again ? '
'My mind is made up never to see him
THE MAN SHE REFUSED 119
again.' She had answered firmly so far. Her
next words were spoken with hesitation, in
tones that faltered. ' But I am sometimes
afraid,' slie said, ' that the decision may not
rest with me.'
' What do you mean ? '
' I would rather not tell you.'
' That is a strange answer, Iris.'
' I value your good opinion, Hugh ; and 1
am afraid of losing it.'
* Nothing has ever altered my opinion of
you,' he replied ; ' and nothing ever will.'
She looked at him anxiously, with the
closest attention. Little by little, the expres-
sion of doubt in her face disappeared ; she
knew how he loved her — she resolved to
' My friend,' she began abruptly, ' educa-
tion has done nothing for me. Since I left
Ireland, I have sunk (I don't know liow or
why) into a state of superstitious fear. Yes !
I20 BLIND LOVE
I believe in a fatality which is leading me
back to Lord Harry, in spite of myself. Twice
already, since I left home, I have met with
him ; and eacli time I have been the means of
saving him — once at the milestone, and once
at the ruin in the wood. If my father still
accuses me of being in love with an adven-
turer, you can say with perfect truth that I
am afraid of him. I am afraid of the third
meeting. I have done my best to escape from
that man ; and step by step, as I think I am
getting away, Destiny is taking me back to
him. I may be on my way to him here,
hidden in this wretched little town. Oh,
don't despise me ! Don't be ashamed of
me ! '
' My dear, I am interested — deeply inter-
ested in you. That there may be some such
influence as Destiny in our poor mortal lives
I dare not deny. But I don't agree with your
conclusion. What Destiny is to do with you
THE MAN SHE REFUSED 121
and with me, neither you nor I can pretend
to know beforehand. In the presence of that
great mystery, humanity must submit to be
ignorant. Wait, Iris — wait ! '
She answered him with the simplicity of a
docile child: ' I will do anything you tell me.'
Mountjoy was too fond of her to say more
of Lord Harry, for that day. He was careful
to lead tlie talk to a topic which might be
trusted to provoke no agitating thoughts.
Finding Iris to all appearance established in
the doctor's house, he was naturally anxious
to know something of the person who must
have invited her — the doctor's wife.
122 BLIND LOVE
THE REGISTERED PACKET
OUNTJGY bei^an bv alkidino' to tlie
second of Miss Henley's letters to
her father, and to a passage in it
wliich mentioned Mrs. Yimpany with expres-
sions of the sincerest gratitude.
'I should like to know more,' he said,
' of a lady whose hospitality at home seems to
equal her kindness as a fellow-traveller. Did
you first meet with her on the railway P '
' She travelled by the same train to Dublin,
with me and my maid, but not in the same
carriage,' Iris answered ; ' I was so fortunate
as to meet with lier on tlie voyage from
Dubhn to Holyhead. We had a rough
THE REGISTERED PACKET 123
crossing ; and Elioda suffered so dreadfully
from sea-sickness that she frightened me.
The stewardess was attending to ladies who
were calling for her in all directions ; I really
don't know what misfortune miglit not have
happened, if Mrs. Vimpany had not come
forward in the kindest manner, and offered
help. She knew so wonderfully well what
was to be done, that she astonished me. " I
am the wife of a doctor," she said ; " and I am
only imitating what I have seen my husband
do, when his assistance has been required, at
sea, in weather like this." In her poor state
of health, Ehoda was too much exhausted to
go on by tlie train, when we got to Holyhead.
She is the best of good girls, and I am fond
of her, as you know. If I had been by myself,
I dare say I should have sent for medical help.
What do you think dear Mrs. Yimpany offered
to do? "Your maid is only faint," she said.
" Give her rest and some iced wine, and she will
124 BLIND LOVE
be well enough to go on by the slow train.
Don't be frightened about her ; I will wait
with you." And she did wait. Are there
many strangers, Hugh, who are as unselfishly
good to others as my chance-acquaintance in
the steam-boat ? '
' Very few, I am afraid.'
Mountjoy made that reply with some little
embarrassir nt ; conscious of a doubt of
Mrs. Yimpany's disinterested kindness, which
seemed to be unworthy of a just man.
Iris went on.
'Elioda was sufficiently recovered,' she
said, ' to travel by the next train, and there
seemed to be no reason for feeling any more
anxiety. But, after a time, the fatigue of
the journey proved to be too much for her.
The poor girl turned pale — and fainted. Mrs.
Vimpany revived her, but, as it turned out,
only for a while. She fell into another faint-
ing fit; and my travening-companion began
THE REGISTERED PACKET 125
to look anxious. There was some difficulty
in restorin<j^ Elioda to lier senses. In dread
of another attack, I determined to stop at the
next station. It looked such a poor place,
when we got to it, that I hesitated. Mrs.
Yimpany persuaded me to go on. The next
station, she said, was lier station. " Stop
there," she suggested, " and let my husband
look at the girl. I ought not perhaps to say
it, but you will find no better medical man
out of London." I took the good creature's
advice gratefully. What else could I do ? '
' What would you have done,' Mountjoy
inquired, ' if Ehoda had been strong enough
to get to the end of the journey ? '
' I should have gone on to London, and
taken refuge in a lodging — you were in town,
as I believed, and my father might relent in
time. As it was, I felt my lonely position
keenly. To meet with kind people, like Mr.
Yimpany and his wife, was a real blessing to
126 BUND LOVE
siicli a friendless creature as I am — to say
nothing of the advantage to Ehoda, who is
getting better every day. I sliould hke you
to see Mrs. Yimpany, if she is at liome. She
is a httle formal and old-fashioned in her
manner — but I am sure you will be pleased
with her. Ah! you look round the room'!
Tliey are poor, miserably poor for persons in
their position, these worthy friends of mine.
I have had the greatest difficulty in persuading
them to let me contribute my share towards
the household expenses. They only yielded
when I threatened to go to the inn. You are
looking very serious, Hugh. Is it possible
that you see some objection to my staying in
this house ? '
The drawing-room door was softly opened,
at the moment when Iris put that question.
A lady appeared on the threshold. Seeing
the stranger, she turned to Iris.
THE REGISTERED PACKET 127
' I didn't know, dear Miss Henley, that you
had a visitor. Pray pardon my intrusion.'
The voice was deep ; the articulation was
clear ; the smile presented a certain modest
dignity which gave it a value of its own.
This was a woman who could make such
a commonplace thing as an apology worth
listening to. Iris stopped her as she was
about to leave the room. ' I was just wishing
for you,' she said. ' Let me introduce my old
friend, Mr. Mountjoy. Hugh, this is the lady
who has been so kind to me; — Mrs. Yimpany.'
Hugh's impulse, under the circumstances,
was to dispense with the formahty of a bow,
. and to shake hands. Mrs. Yimpany met this
friendly advance with a suavity of action not
often seen in these days of movement without
ceremony. She was a tali shm woman, of a
.certain age. Art had so cleverly improved
lier complexion that it almost looked like
128 BLIND LOVE
nature. Her clieeks had lost the pkimpness
of youth, but her hak (thanks agam perhaps
to Art) showed no signs of turning grey. The
expression of her large dark eyes — placed
perhaps a little too near to her high aquiline
nose — claimed admiration from any person
who was so fortunate as to come within their
range of view. Her hands, long, yellow, and
pitiably thin, were used with a grace which
checked to some extent tlieir cruel betrayal
of her age. Her dress had seen better days,
but it was worn with an air wliicli forbade it
to look actually shabby. The faded lace that
encircled her neck fell in scanty folds over her
bosom. She sank into a chair by Hugh's
side. ' It was a great pleasure to me, Mr.
Mountjoy, to offer my poor services to Miss
Henley ; I can't tell you how happy her
presence makes me in our little house.' The
compliment was addressed to Iris with every
advantage that smiles and tones could offer.
THE REGISTERED PACKET 129
Oddly artificial as it undoubtedly was, Mrs.
Yimpany's manner produced nevertheless an
agreeable impression. Disposed to doubt her
at first, Mountjoy found tliat she was winning
her way to a favourable change in his opinion.
She so far interested him, that he began to
wonder what lier early life might have been,
when she was young and handsome. He
looked again at the portraits of actresses on
the walls, and the plays on the bookshelf —
and then (when she was speaking to Iris) he
stole a sly glance at the doctor's wife. Was
it possible that this remarkable woman had
once been an actress? He attempted to put the
value of that guess to the test by means of a
complimentary allusion to the prints.
' My memory as a play-goer doesn^t
extend over many years,' he began ; ' but I
can appreciate the historical interest of your
beautiful prints.' Mrs. Vimpany bowed grace-
fully — and dumbly. Mountjoy tried again.
VOL. I. K
I30 BLIND LOVE
' One doesn't often see the famous actresses of
past days,' lie proceeded, ' so well represented
on the Avails of an English house.'
This time, he had spoken to better
purpose. Mrs. Yimpany answered him in
' I have many pleasant associations with
the theatre,' she said, 'first formed in the time
of my girlhood.'
Mountjoy waited to hear something more.
Nothing more was said. Perhaps this reticent
lady disliked looking back through a long
interval of years, or perhaps she had her
reasons for leaving Mountjoy's guess at the
truth still lost in doubt. In either case, she
deliberately dropped the subject. Iris took
it up. Sitting by the only table in the room,
she was in a position which placed her exactly
opposite to one of the prints — the magnificent
portrait of Mrs. Siddons as The Tragic Muse.
' I wonder if Mrs. Siddons was really as
THE REGISTERED PACKET 131
beautiful as that P ' she said, pointing to the
print. ' Sir Joshua Eeynolds is reported to
have sometimes flattered his sitters.'
Mrs. Yimpany's solemn self-possessed eyes
suddenly brightened ; the name of tlie great
actress seemed to interest her. On the point,
apparently, of speaking, she dropped the
subject of Mrs. Siddons as she had dropped
the subject of the theatre. Mountjoy was
left to answer Iris.
' We are none of us old enough,' he
reminded her, * to decide whether Sir Joshua's
brush has been guilty of flattery or not.'
He turned to Mrs. Yimpany, and attempted to
look into her life from a new point of view.
'When Miss Henley was so fortunate as to
make your acquaintance,' he said, ' you were
travelHng in Ireland. Was it your first visit
to that unhappy country? '
' I have been more than once in Ireland.'
Having again deliberately disappointed
132 BLIND LOVE
Mountjoy, she was assisted in keeping clear
of the subject of Ireland by a fortunate inter-
ruption. It was the hour of delivery by the
afternoon-post. The servant came in with a
small sealed packet, and a slip of printed
paper in her hand.
'It's registered, ma'am,' the woman an-
nounced. ' The postman says you are to
please sign this. And he seems to be in a
She placed the packet and the slip of
paper on the table, near the inkstand.
Having signed the receipt, Mrs. Yimpany took
up the packet, and examined the address.
She instantly looked at Iris, and looked away
again. ' Will you excuse me for a moment ? '
Saying this she left the room, without opening
The moment the door closed on her, Iris
started up, and hurried to Mountjoy.
Oh, Hugh,' she said, ' I saw the address on
THE REGISTERED PACKET
that packet when the servant put it on the
table ! '
' My dear, what is there to excite you in
the address ? '
' Don't speak so loud ! She may be listen-
ing outside the door.'
Not only the words, but the tone in which
they were spoken, amazed Mountjoy. 'Your
friend, Mrs. Yimpany ! ' he exclaimed.
'Mrs. Yimpany was afraid to open the
packet in our presence,' Iris went on : ' you
must have seen that. The handwriting is
familiar to me ; I am certain of the person
who wrote the address.'
' Well .^ And who is the person ? '
She whispered in his ear :
' Lord Harry.'
THE GAME : MOUNTJOY LOSES
for the mo-
ment. Iris un-
look that he
fixed on her,
it. 'I am quite
sure,' she told
him, ' of what
^-_^ ? 5 "'^'^ Mountj oy's
well-balanced mind hesitated at rushing to a
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 135
' I am sure you are convinced of what
you tell me,' he said. ' But mistakes do
sometimes lia]3pen in forming a judgment of
In the state of excitement that now
possessed her, Iris was easily irritated ; she
was angry with Hugh for only supposing that
she might have made a mistake. He had
himself, as she reminded him, seen Lord
Harry's handwriting in past days. Was it
possible to be mistaken in those bold thickly-
written characters, with some of the letters so
quaintly formed ? 'Oh, Hugh, I am miserable
enough as it is,' she broke out ; ' don't dis-
tract me by disputing what I know ! Think
of a woman so kind, so disinterested, so
charming — the very opposite of a false crea-
ture — think of Mrs. Yimpany having deceived
me ! '
There was not the slightest reason, thus
far, for placing that interpretation on what
136 BLIND LOVE
had happened. Mountjoy gently, very gently,
' My dear, we really don't know yet that
Mrs. Vimpany has been acting under Lord
Harry's instructions. Wait a little before you
suspect your fellow-traveller of offering her
services for the purpose of deceiving you.'
Iris was angry with him again : ' Wliy
did Mrs. Vimpany never tell me she knew
Lord Harry ? Isn't that suspicious ? '
Mountjoy smiled. ' Let me put a question
on my side,' he said. 'Did you tell Mrs.
Vimpany you knew Lord Harry ? ' Iris made
no reply ; her face spoke for her. ' Well,
then,' he urged, ' is your silence suspicious ?
I am far, mind, from saying that this may
not be a very unpleasant discovery. Only
let us be sure first that we are right.'
With most of a woman's merits. Miss
Henley had many of a woman's faults. Still
holding to her own conclusion, she asked how
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 137
they could expect to be sure of anything if
they addressed their inquiries to a person who
had already deceived them.
Mountjoy's inexhaustible indulgence still
made allowances for her. ' When Mrs. Yim-
pany comes back,' he said, ' I will find an
opportunity of mentioning Lord Harry's name.
If she tells us that she knows him, there will
be good reason in that one circumstance,
as it seems to me, for continuing to trust
'Suppose she shams ignorance,' Iris per-
sisted, ' and looks as if she had never heard
of his name before ? '
' In that case, I shall own that I was
wrong, and shall ask you to forgive me.'
The finer and better nature of Iris
recovered its influence at these words. ' It
is I who ought to beg pardon,' she said. ' Oh,
I" w^ish I could think before I speak ; how
insolent and ill-tempered I have been ! But
138 BLIND LOVE
suppose I turn out to be right, Hugh, what
will you do then ? '
' Then, my dear, it will be my duty to
take you and your maid away from this
house, and to tell your father what serious
reasons there are ' He abruptly checked
himself. Mrs. Yimpany had returned ; she
was in perfect possession of her lofty cour-
tesy, sweetened by the modest dignity of
' I have left you, Miss Henley, in such good
company,' she said, with a gracious inclina-
tion of her head in the direction of Mountjoy,
' that I need hardly repeat my apologies —
unless, indeed, I am interrupting a confidential
It was possible that Iris might have
betrayed herself, when the doctor's wife had
looked at her after examining the address on
the packet. In this case Mrs. Vimpany's
allusion to ' a confidential conversation' would
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 139
have operated as a warning to a person of
experience in the by-ways of deceit. Mount-
joy's utmost exertion of cunning was not
capable of protecting him on such conditions
as these. The opportunity of trying his
proposed experiment with Lord Harry's name
seemed to have presented itself already. He
rashly seized on it.
'You have interrupted nothing that was
confidential,' he hastened to assure Mrs.
Yimpany. ' We have been speaking of a
reckless young gentleman, who is an ac-
quaintance of ours. If what I hear is true,
he has already become public property ; his
adventures have found their way into some of
Here, if Mrs. Yimpany had answered
Hugh's expectations, she ought to have asked
who the young gentleman was. She merely
listened in polite silence.
With a woman's quickness of perception,
I40 BUND LOVE
Iris saw that Mountjoy had not only pounced
on his opportunity preinaturely, but had
spoken with a downright directness of aUu-
sion which must at once have put such a
ready-witted person as Mrs. Yimpany on her
guard. In trying to prevent him from pur-
suing his unfortunate experiment in social
diplomacy, Iris innocently repeated Mount-
joy's own mistake. She, too, seized her
opportunity prematurely. That is to say, she
was rash enough to change the subject.
' You were talking just now, Hugh, of our
friend's adventures,' she said ; ' I am afraid
you will find yourself involved in an adven-
ture of no very agreeable kind, if you engage
a bed at the inn. I never saw a more
wretched -looking place.'
It was one of Mrs. Yimpany 's many merits
that she seldom neglected an opportunity of
setting her friends at their ease.
' No, no, dear Miss Henley,' she hastened
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 141
to say ; ' tlie inn is really a more clean and
comfortable place than you suppose. A hard
bed and a scarcity of furniture are tlie worst
evils which your friend has to fear. Do you
know,' she continued, addressing herself to
Mountjoy, ' that I was reminded of a friend of
mine," when you spoke just now of the young
gentleman whose adventures are in the news-
papers. Is it possible that you referred to
the brother of the present Earl of Norland ?
A handsome young Irishman — with whom
I first became acquainted many years since.
Am I right in supposing that you and Miss
Henley know Lord Harry ? ' she asked.
What more than this could an unpre-
judiced mind require ? Mrs. Yimpany had
set herself right with a simplicity that defied
suspicion. Iris looked at Mountjoy. He
appeared to know when he was beaten.
Having acknowledged that Lord Harry was
the young gentleman of whom he and Miss
142 BLIND LOVE
Henley had been speaking, lie rose to take
After what had passed, Iris felt the neces-
sity of speaking privately to Hugh. The
necessary excuse presented itself in the
remote situation of the inn. ' You will never
find your way back,' she said, ' through the
labyrinth of crooked streets in this old town.
Wait for me a minute, and I will be your
Mrs. Vimpany protested. ' My dear ! let
the servant show the way.'
Iris held gaily to her resolution, and ran
away to her room. Mrs. Vimpany yielded
with her best grace. Miss Henley's motive
could hardly have been plainer to her, if Miss
Henley had confessed it herself. ' What a
charming girl ! ' the doctor's amiable wife
said to Mountjoy, when they were alone. ' If
I were a man, Miss Iris is just the young lady
that I should fall in love with.' She looked
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 143
significantly at Mountjoy. Nothing came of
it. She went on : ' Miss Henley mnst have
had many opportunities of being married ;
but the right man has, I fear, not yet pre-
sented himself.' Once more her eloquent
eyes consulted Mountjoy, and once more
nothing came of it. Some women are easily
discouraged. Impenetrable Mrs. Vimpany
was one of the other women ; she had not
done with Mountjoy yet — she invited him to
dinner on the next day.
'Our early hour is three o'clock,' she
said modestly. ' Pray join us. I hope
to have the pleasure of introducing my
Mountjoy had his reasons for wishing to
see the husband. As he accepted the invi-
tation. Miss Henley returned to accompany
him to the inn.
Iris put the inevitable question to Hugh
as soon as they were out of the doctor's house
144 BUND LOVE
— ' What do you say of Mrs. Yimpany,
now ? '
' I say that she must Jiave been once an
actress,' Mount] oy answered ; ' and tliat she
carries her experience of the stage into private
' What do you propose to do next ? '
' I propose to wait and see Mrs. Vimpany's
' Mrs. Yimpany, my dear, is too clever for
me. If— observe, please, that I do her the
justice of putting it in that way — if she is
really Lord Harry's creature, employed to keep
watch on you, and to inform him of your next
place of residence in England, I own that she
has completely deceived me. In that case it
is just possible that the husband is not such a
fmished and perfect humbug as the wife. I
may be able to see through him. I can but
THE GAME : MOUNTJOY LOSES 145
Iris sighed. ' I almost hope 3^011 may not
succeed,' she said.
Mountjoy was puzzled and made no
attempt to conceal it.
' I thought you only wanted to get at the
truth,' he answered.
'My mind might be easier, perhaps, if I
was left in doubt,' she suggested. ' A perverse
way of thinking has set up my poor opinion
against yours. But I am getting back to my
better sense. I believe you were entirely right
when you tried to prevent me from rushing to
conclusions ; it is more than likely that I have
done Mrs. Yimpany an injustice. Oh, Hugh,
I ought to keep a friend — I who have so few
friends — when I have got one ! And there
is another feeling in me which I must not
conceal from you. When I remember Lord
Harry's noble conduct in trying to save poor
Arthur, I cannot believe him capable of such
hateful deceit as consenting to our separation,
VOL. I. L
146 BLIND LOVE
and then having me secretly watched by a
spy. What monstrous inconsistency ! Can
anybody beheve it ? Can anybody account
' I think I can account for it, Iris, if you
will let me make the attempt. You are mis-
taken, to begin with.'
' How am I mistaken ? '
' You shall see. There is no such creature
as a perfectly consistent human being on the
face of the earth — and, strange as it may seem
to you, the human beings themselves are not
aware of it. The reason for this curious state
of things is not far to seek. How can people
who are ignorant — as we see every day — of
their own characters be capable of correctly
estimating the characters of others? Even
the influence of their rehgion fails to open
their eyes to the truth. In tlie Prayer which
is the most precious possession of Christendom
their lips repeat the entreaty that they may
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 1^7
not be led into temptation — but their minds
fail to draw the inference. If that pathetic peti-
tion means anything, it means that virtuous men
and women are capable of becoming vicious
men and women, if a powerful temptation puts
them to the test. Every Sunday, devout
members of the congregation in church —
models of excellence in their own estimation,
and in the estimation of their neighbours —
declare that they have done those things which
they ought not to have done, and that there
is no health in them. Will you believe that
they are encouraged by their Prayer-books to
present this sad exposure of the frailty of their
own admirable characters ? How inconsistent
— and yet how entirely true ! Lord Harry,
as you rightly say, behaved nobly in trying to
save my dear lost brother. He ought, as you
think, and as other people think, to be consis-
tently noble, after that, in all his thoughts and
actions, to the end of his life. Suppose that
148 BLIND LOVE
temptation does try him — such temptation,
Iris, as you innocently present — why doesn't
he offer a superhuman resistance ? You
might as well ask. Why is he a mortal man ?
How inconsistent, how improbable, that he
should have tendencies to evil in him, as well
as tendencies to good ! Ah, I see you don't
like this. It would be infinitely more agree-
able (wouldn't it ?) if Lord Harry was one of
the entirely consistent characters, which are
sometimes presented in works of fiction. Our
good English readers are charmed with the
man, the woman, or the child, who is intro-
duced to them by the kind novelist as a
being without faults. Do they stop to con-
sider whether this is a true picture of human-
ity ? It would be a terrible day for the book,
if they ever did that. But the book is in no
danger. The readers would even fail to dis-
cover the falseness of the picture, if they were
presented to themselves as perfect characters.
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY LOSES 149
" We mustn't say so, but liow wonderfully like
us ! " There would be the only impression
produced. I am not trying to dishearten you ;
I want to encourage you to look at humanity
from a wider and truer point of view. • Do
not be too readily depressed, if you fmd your
faith shaken in a person whom you have
hitherto believed to be good. That person
has been led into temptation. Wait till time
shows you that the evil influence is not ever-
lasting, and that the good influence will in-
consistently renew your faith, out of the
very depths of your despair. Humanity, in
general, is neither perfectly good nor perfectly
wicked : take it as you find it. Is this a hard
lesson to learn ? Well ! it's easy to do what
other people do under similar circumstances.
Listen to the unwelcome truth to-day, my
dear ; and forget it to-morrow.'
They parted at the door of the inn.
50 BLIND LOVE
THE game: MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD
^E. YIMPANY (of the College of Sur-
geons) was a burly man, heavily
built from head to foot. His bold
round eyes looked straight at his fellow-crea-
tures with an expression of impudent good
humour ; his whiskers were bushy, his hands
were big, his lips were thick, his legs were
solid. Add to this a broad sunburnt face,
and a grey coat with wide tails, a waistcoat
with a check pattern, and leather riding-
gaiters — and no stranger could have failed to
mistake Mr. Yimpany for a farmer of the old
school. He was proud of the false impression
that he created. 'Nature built me to be a
mount; OY PLAYS A NEW CARD 151
farmer,' he used to say. ' But my poor foolish
old mother was a lady by birth, and she in-
sisted on her son being a professional man. I
hadn't brains for the Law, or money for the
Army, or morals for the Church. And here I
am a country doctor — the one representative
of slavery left in the nineteenth century. You
may not believe me, but T never see a
labourer at the plough that I don't envy
This was the husband of the elegant lady
with the elaborate manners. This was the
man who received Mountjoy with a ' Glad to
see you, sir,' and a shake of the hand that
' Coarse fare,' said Mr. Vimpany, carving
a big joint of beef; 'but I can't afford any-
thing better. Only a pudding to follow, and
a glass of glorious old sherry. Miss Henley
is good enough to excuse it — and my wife's
used to it — and you will put up with it,
152 BLIND LOVE
Mr. Mount] oy, if you are half as amiable as
you look. I'm an old-fashioned man. The
pleasure of a glass of wine with you, sir.'
Hugh's first experience of the ' glorious
old sherry ' led him to a discovery, which
proved to be more important than he was
disposed to consider it at the moment. He
merely observed, with some amusement, that
Mr. Yimpany smacked liis lips in hearty a]3-
proval of the worst sherry that his guest had
ever tasted. Here, plainly self-betrayed, Avas
a medical man who was an exception to a
general rule in the profession — here was a
doctor ignorant of the difference between good
wine and bad !
Both the ladies were anxious to know how
Mountjoy had passed the night at the inn.
He had only time to say that there was
nothing to complain of, when Mr. Yimpany
burst into an explosion of laughter.
' Oh, but you must have had something to
MOUNTJOV PLAYS A NEW CARD 153
complain of ! ' said the big doctor. ' I would
bet a hundred, if I could afford it, that the
landlady tried to poison you with her sour
' Do you speak of the claret at the inn,
after having tasted it?' Mountjoy asked.
' What do you take me for ? ' cried Mr.
Vimpany. 'After all I have heard of that
claret, I am not fool enough to try it myself,
I can tell you.' Mountjoy received this
answer in silence. The doctor's ignorance
and tlie doctor's prejudice, in the matter of
wine, had started a new train of thought in
Hugh's mind, which threatened serious conse-
quences to Mr. Vimpany himself. There was
a pause at the table ; nobody spoke. The
doctor saw condemnation of his rudeness ex-
pressed in his wife's face. He made a rough
apology to Mountjoy, who was still pre-
occupied. 'No offence, I hope? It's in the
nature of me, sir, to speak my mind. If I
154 BLIND LOVE
could fawn and flatter, I should have got on
better in my profession. I'm what they call
a rough diamond. No offence, I say ? '
' None whatever, Mr. Vimpany.'
' That's right ! Try another glass of
Mountjoy took the sherry.
Iris looked at him, lost in surprise. It
was unlike Hugh to be interested in a
stranger's opinion of wine. It was unlike
him to drink wine which was evidently not
to his taste. And it was especially unlike his
customary courtesy to let himself fall into
thought at dinner-time, when there were other
persons at the table. Was he ill ? Impossible
to look at him, and not see that he was in
perfect health. What did it mean ?
Finding Mountjoy inattentive, Mr. Vim-
pany addressed himself to Iris.
' I had to ride hard, Miss Henley, to get
home in time for dinner. There are patients,
MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD 155
I must tell you, who send for the doctor, and
then seem to thmk they know more about it
than the very man whom they have called in
to cure them. It isn't he who tells them
what their illness is ; it's they who tell him.
They dispute about the medical treatment
that's best for them, and the one thing they
are never tired of doing is talking about their
symptoms. It was an old man's gabble that
kept me late to-day. However, the Squire,
as they call him in these parts, is a patient
with a long purse ; I am obliged to submit.'
' A gentleman of the old school, dear Miss
Henley,' Mrs. Vimpany explained. ' Im-
mensely rich. Is he better .^ ' she asked,
turning to her husband.
' Better ? ' cried the outspoken doctor.
' Pooh ! there's nothing the matter with him
but gluttony. He went to London, and con-
sulted a great man, a humbug with a handle
to his name. The famous physician got rid
156 BUND LOVE
of him in no time — sent him abroad to boil
himself in foreign baths. He came home
again worse than ever, and consulted poor
Me. I found him at dinner — a perfect feast,
I give you my word of honour ! — and the old
fool gorging himself till he was black in the
face. His wine, I should have said, was not
up to the mark ; wanted body and flavour,
you know. Ah, Mr. Mountjoy, this seems to
interest you ; reminds you of the landlady's
wine — eh? Well, sir, how do you think I
treated the Squire .^ Emptied his infirm old •
inside with an emetic — and there he was on
his legs again! Whenever he overeats him-
self, he sends for me ; and pays liberally. I
ought to be grateful to him, and I am. Upon
my soul, I believe I should be in the bank-
'ruptcy court but for the Squire's stomach.
Look at my wife ! She's sliocked at me. We
ought to keep up appearances, my dear?
Not I ! When I am poor, I say I am poor.
MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD 157
When I cure a patient, I make no mystery of
it ; everybody's welcome to know how it's
(lone. Don't be down-hearted, Arabella ;
nature never meant 3^our husband for a doctor,
and there's the long and the short of it.
Another glass of sherry, Mr. Mountjoy ? '
All social ceremonies — includino^ the
curious Enghsh custom which sends the
ladies upstairs, after dinner, and leaves the
gentlemen at the table — found a devoted
adherent in Mrs. Yimpany, She rose as if
she had been presiding at a banquet, and led
Miss Henley affectionately to the drawing-
room. Iris glanced at Hugh. No : his mind
was not at ease yet ; the preoccupied look
had not left his face.
Jovial Mr. Vimpany pushed the bottle
across the table to his guest, and held out a
handful of big black cigars.
' Now for the juice of the grape,' he cried,
* and the best cic^ar in all Endand ! '
158 BLIND LOVE
He had just filled his glass, and struck a
light for his cigar, when the servant came in
with a note. Some men relieve their sense of
indignation in one way, and some in another.
The doctor's form of relief was an oath.*
' Talk about slavery ! ' he shouted. ' Find me
such a slave in all Africa as a man in my
profession. There isn't an hour of the day
or night that he can call his own. Here's
a stupid old woman with an asthma, who has
got another spasmodic attack — and I must
leave my dinner-table and my friend, just as
we are enjoying ourselves. I have half a mind
not to go.'
The inattentive guest suddenly set himself
right in his host's estimation. Hugh remon-
strated with an appearance of interest in the
case, which the doctor interpreted as a com-
pliment to himself: 'Oh, Mr. Vimpany,
humanity ! humanity ! '
' Oh, Mr. Mount] oy, money ! money ! ' the
MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD 159
facetious doctor answered. ' The old lady is
our Mayor's mother, sir. You don't seem to
be quick at taking a joke. Make your mind
easy ; I shall pocket my fee.'
As soon as he had closed the door, Hugh
Mountjoy uttered a devout ejaculation.
' Thank God ! ' he said — and walked up and
down the room, free to think without inter-
ruption at last.
The subject of his meditations was the
influence of intoxication, in disclosing the
hidden weaknesses and vices of a man's
character by exhibiting them just as they are,
released from the restraint which he exercises
over himself when he is sober. That there
was a weak side, and probably a vicious side,
in Mr. Yimpany's nature it was hardly possible
to doubt. His blustering good liumour, his
audacious self-conceit, the tones of his voice,
the expression in his eyes, all revealed him
(to use one expressive word) as a humbug.
i6o BLIND LOVE
Let drink subtly deprive him of his capacity
for self-concealment, and the true nature of
his wife's association with Lord Harry might
sooner or later show itself — say, in after-
dinner talk, under skilful management. The
right method of entrapping him into a state of
intoxication (which might have presented
serious difficulties under other circumstances)
was suggested, partly by his ignorance of the
difference between good wine and bad, and
partly by Mountjoy's knowledge of the
excellent quality of the landlady's claret. He
had recognised, as soon as he tasted it, that
finest vintage of Bordeaux, which conceals its
true strength — to a gross and ignorant taste
— under the exquisite delicacy of its flavour.
Encourage Mr. Yimpany, by means of a dinner
at the inn, to give his opinion as a man whose
judgment in claret was to be seriously con-
sulted — and permit him also to discover that
Hugh was rich enouo^h to have been able to
MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD 16 1
buy the wine — and the attainment of the end
in view woidd be simply a question of time.
There was certainly the chance to be reckoned
with, that his thick head might prove to be
too strong for the success of the experiment.
Mountjoy determined to try it, and did try it
Mr. Yimpany returned from his medical
errand, thoroughly well satisfied with himself.
* The Mayor's mother has reason to thank
you, sir,' he announced. 'If you hadn't
hurried me away, the wretched old creature
would have been choked. A regular stand-up
fight, by Jupiter, between death and the
doctor ! — and the doctor has won ! Give me
the reward of merit. Pass the bottle.'
He took up the decanter, and looked
' Why, what liave you been about ? ' he
asked. ' I made up my mind that I should
want the key of the cellar when I came back,
VOL. I. M
i62 BLIND LOVE
and I don't believe you have drunk a drop in
my absence. What does it mean ? '
' It means that I am not worthy of your
sherry,' Mouritjoy answered. ' The Spanish
wines are too strong for my weak digestion.'
Mr. Yimpany burst into one of his explo-
sions of laughter. ' You miss the landlady's
vinegar — eh ? '
' Yes, I do ! Wait a minute, doctor ; I
have a word to say on my side — and, like you,
I mean what I say. The landlady's vinegar is
some of the finest Chateau Margaux I have
ever met with— thrown away on ignorant
people who are quite unworthy of it.'
The doctor's natural insolence showed
itself. ' You have bought this wonderful
wine, of course ? ' he said satirically.
'That,' Mountjoy answered, ' is just what
I have done.'
For once in his life, Mr. Yimpany's self-
sufficient readiness of speech failed him. He
• MOUNTJOV PLAYS A NEW CARD 163
stared at liis guest in dumb amazement.
On this occasion, Mountjoy improved the
opportunity to good purpose. Mr. Vimpany
accepted witli the utmost readiness an invita-
tion to dine, on the next day, at the inn. But
he made a condition. ' In case I don't agree
with you about that Chateau — what-you-call-
it,' he said, ' you won't mind my sending
home for a bottle of sherry ? '
The next event of the day was a visit to
the most interesting monument of antiquity
in the town. In the absence of the doctor,
caused by professional engagements, Miss
Henley took Mountjoy to see the old church
— and Mrs. Yimpany accompanied them, as a
mark of respect to Miss Henley's friend.
When there was a chance of being able to
speak confidentially, Iris was eager in praising
the doctor's wife. ' You can't imagine, Hugh,
how agreeable she has been, and how entirely
she has convinced me that I was wron^r,
I64 BLIND LOVE
shamefully wrong, in thinking of her as I did.
She sees that you dislike her, and yet she
speaks so nicely of you. *' Your clever friend
enjoys your society," she said ; '• pray accom-
pany me when I take him to see the church."
How unselfish ! '
Mountjoy kept his own counsel. The
generous impulses which sometimes led Iris
astray were, as he well knew, beyond the
reach of remonstrance. His own opinion
of Mrs. Vimpany still pronounced steadily
against her. Prepared for discoveries, on the
next day, which might prove too serious to
be trifled with, he now did his best to provide
for future emergencies.
After first satisfying himself that there
was nothing in the present state of the maid's
health which need detain her mistress at
Honeybuzzard, he next completed his pre-
parations by returning to the inn, and writing
to Mr. Henley. With strict regard to truth,
MOUNTJOY PLAYS A NEW CARD 165
his letter presented the daughter's claim on
the father under a new point of view. What-
ever the end of it might be, Mr. Henley was
requested to communicate his intentions by
telegraph. ' Will you receive Iris ? ' was the
question submitted. The answer expected
was : ' Yes ' or ' No.'
166 BLIND LOVE
THE GAME : MOUNTJOY WI^'S *
E. HENLEY'S telegram arrived at
the inn the next morning.
He was wilhng to receive his
daughter, but not unreservedly. The mes-
sage was characteristic of the man : ' Yes —
on trial.' Mountjoy was not shocked, was not
even surprised. He knew that the successful
speculations, by means of which Mr. Henley
had accumulated his wealth, had raised against
him enemies, who had spread scandalous re-
ports which had never been completely refuted.
The silent secession of friends, in whose
fidelity he trusted, had hardened the man's
heart and embittered his nature. Strangers
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY WINS 167
in distress, who appealed to the rich retired
merchant for help, found in their excellent
references to character the worst form of
.persuasion that they could have adopted.
Paupers witliout a rag of reputation left to
cover them, were the objects of charity whom
Mr. Henley relieved. When he was asked to
justify his conduct, he said : ' I have a sym-
pathy with bad characters — I am one of them
With the arrival of the dinner-hour the
doctor appeared, in no very amiable humour,
at the inn.
' Another hard da3^'s work/ he said ; ' I
should sink under it, if I hadn't a prospect of
getting rid of my practice here. London — or
the neighbourhood of London — there's the
right place for a man like Me. • Well?
Where's the wonderful wine ? Mind ! I'm
Tom-Tell-Truth ; if I don't like your French
tipple, I shall say so.'
1 68 BLIND LOVE
The inn possessed no claret glasses ; they
drank the grand wine in tumblers as if it had
been vin ordinaire.
Mr. Yimj)any showed that he was ac-
quainted with the formalities proper to the
ceremony of tasting. He filled his makeshift
glass, he held it up to the light, and looked
at the wine severely ; he moved the tumbler
to and fro under his nose, and smelt at it
again and again ; he paused and reflected ;
he tasted the claret as cautiously as if he
feared it might be poisoned ; he smacked his
lips, and emptied his glass at a draught ;
lastly, he showed some consideration for his
host's anxiety, and pronounced sentence on
'Not so good as you think it, sir. But
nice light claret ; clean and wholesome. I
hope you haven't given too much for it ? '
Thus far, Hugh had played a losing game
patiently. His reward had come at last.
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY WINS 169
After what the doctor had just said to him,
he saw the winning card safe in his own
The bad dinner was soon over. No soup,
of course ; fish, in the state of preservation
usually presented by a decayed country
town ; steak that rivalled the toughness of
india-rubber; potatoes whose aspect said,
' Stranger, don't eat us ' ; pudding that would
have produced a sense of discouragement,
even in the mind of a child ; and the famous
English cheese which comes to us, oddly
enough, from the United States, and stings us
vindictively when we put it into our mouths.
But the wine, the glorious wine, would have
made amends to anybody but Mr. Yimpany
for the woeful deficiencies of the food.
Tumbler-full after tumbler-full of that noble
vintage poured down his thirsty and ignorant
throat ; and still he persisted in declaring
that it was nice li^ht stuff, and still he un-
I70 BLIND LOVE
forgivingly bore in mind the badness of the
' The feeding here,' said this candid man,
' is worse if possible than the feeding at sea,
when I served as doctor on board a pas-
senger-steamer. Sliall I tell you how I lost
my place ? Oh, say so plainly, if you don't
think my little anecdote worth listening to ! '
' My dear sir, I am waiting to hear it.'
' Very good. No offence, I hope ? That's
right ! Well, sir, the captain of the ship
complained of me to the owners ; I wouldn't
go round, every morning, and knock at the
ladies' cabin-doors, and ask how they felt
after a sea-sick night. Who doesn't know
what they feel without knocking at their
doors ? Let them send for the doctor when
they want him. That was how I understood
my duty, and there was the line of conduct
that lost me my place. Pass the wine. Talk-
ing of ladies, what do you think of my wife ?
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY WINS 171
Did you ever see such distinguished manners
before ? My dear fellow, I have taken a
fancy to you. Shake hands. I'll tell you
another little anecdote. Where do you think
my wife picked up her fashionable airs and
graces ? Ho ! ho ! On the stage ! The
highest branch of the profession, sir — a tragic
actress. If you had seen her in Lady Mac-
beth, Mrs. Yimpany would have made your
flesh creep. Look at me, and feast your eyes
on a man who is above hypocritical objec-
tions to the theatre. Haven't I proved it by
marrying an actress ? But we don't mention
it here. The savages in this beastly place
wouldn't employ me, if they knew I had
married a stage-player. Hullo ! the bottle's
empty again. Ha ! here's another bottle, full.
I love a man who has always got a full bottle
to offer his friend. Shake hands. I say,
Mountjoy, tell me on your sacred word of
honour, can you keep a secret .^ My wife's
172 BLIND LOVE
secret, sir ! Stop ! let me look at you again.
I thouglit I saw you smile. If a man smiles
at me, when I am opening my whole heart to
him, by the living jingo, I would knock that
man down at his own table ! What ? you
didn't smile ? I apologise. Your hand again ;
I drink your health in your own good wine.
Where was I ? What was I talking about ? '
Mountjoy carefully humoured his interest-
' You were about to honour me,' he said,
' by taking me into your confidence.' Mr. Vim-
pany stared in tipsy bewilderment. Mountjoy
tried again, in plainer language : ' You were
going to tell me a secret.'
This time the doctor grasped the idea.
He looked round cunningly to the door.
' Any eavesdroj^pers ? ' he asked. ' Hush !
Whisper — this is serious — whisper ! What
was it I was going to tell you ? What was
the secret, old boy ? '
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY WINS 173
Mountjoy answered a little too readily : ' I
think it related to Mrs. Vimpany.'
Mrs. Yimpany's husband threw himself
back in his chair, snatched a dirty handker-
chief out of his pocket, and began to cr}^
' Here's a false friend ! ' the creature whim-
pered. ' Asks me to dinner, and takes ad-
vantage of my dependent situation to insult
my wife. The loveliest of women, the sweet-
est of women, the innocentest of women. Oh,
my wife ! my wife ! ' He suddenly threw his
handkerchief to the other end of the room,
and burst out laughing. ' Ho ! ho ! Mountjoy,
what an infernal fool you must be to take
me seriously. I can act, too. Do you think
I care about my wife ? She was a fine woman
once ; she's a bundle of old rags now. But
she has her merits. Hush ! I want to know
something. Have you got a lord among your
circle of acquaintance.'
Experience made Mountjoy more careful ;
174 BLIND LOVE
perhaps a little too careful. He only said
The doctor's dignity asserted itself. ' That's
a short answer, sir, to a man in my position.
If you want me to believe you, mention your
Here was a chance at last! 'His name,'
Mountjoy began, ' is Lord Harry '
Mr. Yimpany lost his dignity in an instant.
He struck his heavy fist on the table, with a
blow that made tlie tumblers jump.
' Coincidence ! ' he cried. ' How wonder-
ful — no ; that's not the word — providential is
the word — how providential are coincidences!
I mean, of course, to a rightly constituted
mind. Let nobody contradict me ! When I
say a rightly constituted mind, I speak
seriously ; and a young man like you will be
all the better for it. Mountjoy ! dear Mount-
joy ! jolly Mountjoy ! my wife's lord is your
lord — Lord Harry. No ; none of your non-
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY WINS 175
sense — I won't have any more wine. Yes, I
will ! It miglit hurt your feelings if I didn't
drink with you. Pass the bottle. Ha !
That's a nice ring you've got on your finger.
Perhaps you tliink it valuable ? It's nothing,
sir ;.it's dross, it's dirt, compared to my wife's
dig-mond pin ! There's a jewel, if you like !
It will be worth a fortune to us when we sell
it. A gift, dear sir. I'm afraid I've been too
familiar with you. Speaking as a born gen-
tleman, I beg to present my respects, and I
call you " dear sir." Did I tell you the
diamond pin was a gift ? It's nothing of the
sort ; we are under no obligation ; my wife,
my admirable wife, has earned that diamond
pin. By registered post ; and wliat I call a
manly letter from Lord Harry. He is deeply
obliged (I give you the sense of it) by what
my wife has done for him ; ready-money is
scarce with my lord ; he sends a family jewel,
with his love. Oh, I'm not jealous. He's
176 BLIND LOVE
welcome to love Mrs. Vimpany, in her old
age, if he likes. Did you say that, sir ? Did
you say that Lord Harry, or any man, was
welcome to love Mrs. Vimpany? I have a
great mind to throw this bottle at your head.
No, I won't ; it's wasting good wine. How kind
of you to give me good wine! Who are you?
I don't like dining with a stranger. Do you
know any friend of mine ? Do you know a
man named Mountjoy ? Do you know two
men named Mountjoy? No : you don't. One
of them is dead ; killed by those murdering
scoundrels — what do you call them? Eh,
what?' The doctor's voice began to falter,
his head dropped ; he slumbered suddenly
and woke suddenly, and began talking
again suddenly. 'Would you like to be
made acquainted with Lord Harry ? I'll give
you a sketch of his character before I intro-
duce him. Between ourselves, he's a desperate
wretch. Do you know why he employed my
THE GAME: MOUNT/0 Y WINS lyj
wife, m^ admirable wife ? You will agree
with me ; he ought to have looked after his
young woman himself. We've got his young-
woman safe in our house. A nice girl. Not
my style ; my medical knowledge certifies
she's cold-blooded. Lord Harry has only to
come over here, and find her. Why the
devil doesn't he come ? What is it keeps him
in Ireland ? Do you know? I seem to have
forgotten. My own belief is I've got soften-
ing of the brain. What's good for softening
of the brahi ? There isn't a doctor living who
won't tell you the right remedy — wine. Pass
the wine. If this claret is worth a farthinsr,
it's worth a guinea a bottle. I ask you in
confidence ; did you ever hear of such a fool
as my wife's lord.^ His name escapes me.
No matter ; he stops in Ireland — hunting.
HuntinfT what ? The fox ? Nothino; so
noble ; hunting assassins. He's got some
grudge against one of them. Means to kill
VOL. I. N
178 BLIND LOVE
one of them. A word in your ear ; they'll
kill liim. Do you ever bet ? Five to one,
he's a dead man before the end of the week.
When is the end of the week ? Tuesday,
Wednesday — no, Saturday — that's the begin-
ning of the week — no, it isn't — the beginning
of tlie week isn't the Sabbath — Sunday, of
course — we are not Christians, we are Jews —
I mean we are Jews, we are not Christians —
I mean '
The claret got the better of his tongue at
last. He mumbled and muttered ; he sank
back in his chair ; he chuckled ; he hiccup-
ped ; he fell asleejD.
All and more than all that Mountjoy
feared, he had now discovered. In a state of
sobriety, the doctor was probably one of those
men who are always ready to lie. In a state
of intoxication, the utterances of his drunken
delirium might unconsciously betray the
truth. The reason which he had aiven for
THE GAME: MOUNTJOY WINS 179
Lord Harry's continued absence in Ireland
could not be wisely rejected as unworthy of
belief. It was in the reckless nature of the
wild lord to put his own life in peril, in the
hope of revenging Arthur Mount] oy on the
wretch who had- killed him. Taking this bad
news for granted, was there any need to dis-
tress Iris by communicating the motive wliich
detained Lord Harry in his own country ?
Surely not !
And, again, was there any immediate
advantage to be gained by revealing the true
character of Mrs. Yimpany, as a spy, and
worse still a spy who was paid? In her
present state of feehng Iris would, in all pro-
bability, refuse to believe it.
Arriving at these conclusions, Hugh looked
at the doctor snoring and choking in an easy-
chair. He had not wasted the time and
patience, devoted to the stratagem which had
now successfully reached its end. After what
i8o BLIND LOVE
he had just heard — thanks to the claret — he
could not hesitate to accomplish the speedy
removal of Iris from Mr. Vimpany's house ;
using her father's telegram as the only means
of persuasion on which it was possible to rely.
Mountjoy left the inn without ceremony, and
hurried away to Iris in the hope of inducing
her to return to London with him that night.
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR
SKING for Miss
Henley at the
Hucfli was in-
formed tliat she
had gone out,
with her invahd
maid, for a walk.
if Mr. Moimtjoy
called in her absence, to beg that he would
kindly wait for her return.
On his way up to the drawing-room,
Mountjoy heard Mrs. Yimpany's sonorous
1 82 BLIND LOVE
voice occupied, as he supposed, in reading
aloud. The door being opened for him, he
surprised lier, striding up and down the room
with a book in her hand ; grandly declaiming
without anybody to applaud her. After what
Hugh had already heard, he could only
conclude that reminiscences of her theatrical
career had tempted the solitary actress to
make a private appearance, for her own
pleasure, in one of those tragic characters
to which her husband had alluded. She
recovered her self-possession on Mountjoy's
appearance, with the ease of a mistress of her
art. 'Pardon me,' she said, holding up her
book with one hand, and tapping it indica-
tively wdth the other ; ' Shakespeare carries
me out of mj^self. A spark of the j^oet's fire
burns in the poet's humble servant. May I
hope that I have made myself understood ?
You look as if you had a fellow-feeling for
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 183
Mountjoy did his best to fill tlie sympa-
thetic part assigned to him, and only suc-
ceeded in showing what a bad actor he would
have been, if he had gone on the stage;
Under the sedative influence thus adminis-
tered, Mrs. Vimpany put away her book, and
descended at once from the highest poetry to
the lowest prose.
'Let us return to domestic events,' she
said indulgently. ' Have the people at the
inn given you a good dinner .^ '
' The people did their best,' Mountjoy
' Has my husband returned with you ? '
Mrs. Vimpany went on.
Mountjoy began to regret that he had not
waited for Iris in the street. He was obliijed
to acknowledge that the doctor had not
returned Avith him.
' Where is Mr. Yimjoany ? '
' At the inn.'
1 84 BLIND LOVE
' What is he doing there P '
Mountjoy hesitated. Mrs. Yimpany rose
again into the regions of tragic poetry. She
stepped up to him, as if he had been Macbeth,
and she was ready to use the daggers. '1
understand but too well,' she declared, in
terrible tones. 'My wretched husband's vices
are known to me. Mr. Vimpany is intoxi-
Hugh tried to make the best of it. ' Only
asleep,' he said. Mrs. Vimpany looked at
him once more. This time, it Avas Queen
Katharine looking at Cardinal Wolsey. She
bowed with lofty courtesy, and opened the
door. ' I have occasion,' she said, ' to go
out ' and made an exit.
Five minutes later, Mountjoy (standing at
the window, impatiently on the watch for the
return of Iris) saw Mrs. Vimpany in the street.
She entered a chemist's shop, on tlie opposite
side of the way, and came out again with a
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 185
bottle in her hand. It was enclosed in the
customary medical wrapping of white paper.
Majestically, she passed out of sight. If Hugh
had followed her, he would have traced the
doctor's wife to the door of the inn.
The unemployed waiter was on the house-
steps, looking about him — with nothing to
see. He made his bow to Mrs. Vimpany, and
informed her that the landlady had gone out.
' You will do as well,' was the reply. ' Is
Mr. Yimpany here ? '
The waiter smiled, and led the way through
the passage to tlie foot of the stairs. 'You
can hear him, ma'am.' It was quite true ;
Mr. Yimpany 's snoring answered for Mr.
Yimpany. His wife ascended the first two or
three stairs, and stopped to sj^eak again to the
waiter. She asked what the two gentlemen
had taken to drink with their dinner. They
had taken ' the French wine.'
' And nothing else ? '
1 86 BLIND LOVE
The waiter ventured on a little joke.
'Nothing else,' he said — 'and more than
enough of it, too.'
' Not more than enough, I suppose, for
the good of the house,' Mrs. Vimpany re-
' I beg your pardon, ma'am ; the claret
the two gentlemen drank is not charged for in
' What do you mean ? '
The waiter explained that Mr. Mountjoy
had purchased the whole stock of the wine.
Suspicion, as well as surprise, appeared in
Mrs. Yimpany's face. She had hitherto
thought it likely that Miss Henley's gentleman-
like friend might be secretly in love with the
young lady. Her doubts of him, now, took a
wider range of distrust. She went on up the
stairs by herself, and banged the door of the
private room as the easiest means of waking
the sleeping man. To the utmost noise that
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 1S7
she could make in this way, he was perfectly
impenetrable. For a while -she waited, look-
ing at him across the table with unutterable
There was the man to whom the religion
of the land and the law of the land, acting
together in perfect harmony, had fettered her
for life ! Some women, in her position, might
have wasted time in useless self-reproach.
Mrs. Yimpany reviewed her miserable married
life with the finest mockery of her own
misfortune. ' Virtue,' she said to herself,
' is its own reward.' #
Glancing with careless curiosity at the
disorder of the dinner-table, she noticed some
wine still left in the bottom of her husband's
glass. Had artificial means been used to
reduce him to his. present condition ? She
tasted the claret. No : there was nothinjy in
the flavour of it which betrayed that he had
been dru(?£?ed. If the waiter was to be
1 88 BLIND LOVE
believed, he had only drunk claret — and there
he was, in a state of helpless stupefaction,
She looked again at the dinner-table, and
discovered one among the many empty
bottles, with some wine still left in it. After
a moment of reflection, she took a clean
tumbler from the sideboard.
Here was the wine which had been an
object of derision to Mr. Yimpany and his
friends. They were gross feeders and
drinkers ; and it might not be amiss to put
their opinions to the test. She was not
searching for the taste of a drug now ; her
present experiment proposed to try the wine
on its own merits.
At the time of her triumphs on the
country stage — before the date of her
unlucky marriage — rich admirers had enter-
tained the handsome actress at suppers, which
offered every luxury that the most perfect
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 189
table could supply. Experience had made
her acquainted with the flavour of the finest
claret — and that experience was renewed by
the claret which she was now tasting. It was
easy to understand why Mr. Mountjoy had
purchased the wine ; and, after a little think-
ing, his motive for inviting Mr. Vimpany to
dinner seemed to be equally plain. Foiled in
their first attempt at discovery by her own
prudence and tact, his suspicions had set their
trap. Her gross husband had been tempted
to drink, and to talk at random (for Mr.
Mountjoy's benefit) in a state of intoxication !
What secrets might the helpless wretch not
have betrayed, before the wine had completely
stupefied him ?
Urged by rage and fear, she shook him
furiously. He woke ; he glared at her with
bloodshot eyes ; he threatened Jier with his
clenched fist. There was but one way of hft-
ing his purbhnd stupidity to the light. She
I90 BLIND LOVE
appealed to his experience of himself, on many
a former occasion : ' You fool, you have been
drinking again — and there's a patient waiting
for you.' To that dilemma he was accus-
tomed ; the statement of it partially roused
him. Mrs. Yimpany tore off the paper wrap-
ping, and opened the medicine-bottle which
she had brought with her.
He stared at it ; he muttered to himself:
' Is she going to poison me ? ' She seized his
head with one hand, and held the open bottle
to his nose. ' Your own prescription/ she
cried, ' for yourself and your hateful friends.'
His nose told him what words midit have
tried vainly to say ; he swallowed the mixture.
' If I lose the patient,' he muttered oracularly,
' I lose the money.' His resolute wife dragged
him out of his chair. The second door in the
dining-room led into an empty bed-chamber.
With her help, he got into the room, and
dropped on the bed.
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 191
Mrs. Vimpany consulted her watch.
On many a former occasion she had learnt
what interval of repose, was required, before
the sobering influence of the mixture could suc-
cessfully assert itself. For the present, she had
only to return to the other room. The waiter
presented himself, asking if there was anything
he could do for her. Familiar with the defec-
tive side of her husband's character, he under-
stood what it meant when she pointed to the
bedroom door. 'The old story, ma'am,' he
said, with an air of respectful sympathy.
' Can 1 get you a cup of tea ? '
Mrs. Vimpany accepted the tea, and
enjoyed it thoughtfully.
She had two objects in view — to be
revenged on Mountjoy, and to find a way of
forcing him to leave tlie town before he could
communicate his discoveries to Iris. How to
reach these separate ends, by one and the
same means, was still the problem which she
192 BLIND LOVE
was trying to solve, when the doctor's coarse
voice was audible calling for somebody to
come to him.
If his head was only clear enough, by this
time, to understand the questions which she
meant to put, his answers might suggest
the idea of which she was in search. Eisino^
with alacrity, Mrs. Vimpany returned to the
' You miserable creature,' she began, ' are
you sober now ? '
' I'm as sober as you are.'
' Do you know,' she went on, ' why Mr.
Mountjoy asked you to dine with him ? '
' Because he's my friend.'
' He is your worst enemy. Hold your
tongue ! I'll explain what I mean directly.
Eouse your memory, if you have got a memory
left. I want to know what you and Mr.
Mountjoy talked about, after dinner.'
He stared at her helplessly. She tried to
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 193
liiid lior Avay to liis recollection by making
suggestive inquiries. It was useless ; he
only complained of being thirsty. His wife
lost her self-control. She was too furiously
angry with him to be able to remain in the
room, liecovering her composure when she
was alone, she sent for soda-water and brandy.
Her one chance of makini? him useful was to
humour his vile temper ; she waited on him
In some degjree the drink cleared his
muddled head. Mrs. Yimpany tried his
memory once more. Had he said this ? Had
he said that? Yes: he thouglit it likely.
Had he, or had Mr. Mountjoy, mentioned
Lord Harry's name ? A glimmer of intelli-
gence showed itself in his stupid eyes. Yes
— and they had quarrelled about it : he rather
thouglit he had thrown a bottle at Mr.
Mountjoy's head. Had they, either of them,
said anything about Miss Henley ? Oh, of
VOL 1. o
194 BLIND LOVE
course! What was it? He was unable to
remember. Had liis wife done bothering
him, now ?
' Not quite,' she rephed. ' Try to under-
stand what I am going to say to you. If
Lord Harry comes to us, while Miss Henley is
in our house '
He interrupted her : ' That's your business.'
' Wait a little. It's my business, if I liear
beforehand that his lordship is coming. But
he is quite reckless enough to take us by
surprise. In that case, I want you to make
yourself useful. If you happen to be at home,
keep him from seeing Miss Henley, until I
have seen lier first.'
* Why ? '
'I want an opportunity, my dear, of telling
Miss Henley that I have been wicked enough
to deceive her, before slie fnids it out for
herself. I may hope she will forgive me, if I
confess every tiling.'
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 195
The doctor laughed : ' What the devil
does it matter whether she forgives 3^011 or
not ? '
' It matters a great deal.'
' Why, you talk as if you were fond of
her ! '
' I am.'
The doctor's clouded intelHgence was
beginning to clear ; he made a smart reply :
' Fond of her, and deceiving her — aha ! '
' Yes,' she said quietly, ' that's just what
it is. It has grown on me, httle by httle ; I
can't help liking Miss Henley.'
' Well,' Mr. Vimpany remarked, ' you are
a fool ! ' He looked at her cunningly.
* Suppose I do make myself useful, what am I
to gain by it ? '
' Let us get back,' she suggested, ' to the
gentleman who invited you to dinner, and
made you tipsy for his own purposes.'
* I'll break every bone in his skin ! '
196 BLIND LOVE
' Don't talk nonsense ! Leave Mr. Mount-
joy to me.'
' Do you take his part ? I can tell you
this. If I drank too much of tliat poisonous
French stuff, Mountjoy set me the example.
He Avas tipsy — as you call it — shamefully
tipsy, I give you my word of honour. What's
the matter now ? '
His wife (so impenetrably cool, thus far)
had suddenly become excited. There was not
the smallest fragment of truth in what lie had
just said of Hugh, and Mrs. Yimpany was not
for a moment deceived by it. But the lie
had, accidentally, one merit — it suggested to
her the idea which she liad vainly tried to
iind, over her cup of tea. ' Suppose I shoAV
you how you may be revenged on Mr.
Mountjoy,' slie said.
'Will you remember what I asked you to
'Xozu,' she said, taking a chair iy the I'cdsidc, 'yon shall k7iow zvhat a clcz'er zvifc you have got .'
DOCTORING THE DOCTOR 197
do for me, if Lord Harry takes us by sur-
prise ? '
He produced his pocket-diary, and told
her to make a memorandum of it. She wrote
as briefly as if she liad been writing a
telegram : ' Keep Lord Harry from seeing
Miss Henley, till I have seen her first.'
' Now,' she said, taking a chair by the
bedside, ' you shall know what a clever wife
you have got. Listen to me.'
198 BLIND LOVE
HER father's ME>SSAGE
'OOKING out of the drawing-room
window, for the tenth time at
least, Mountjoy at last saw^ Iris in
the street, returning to the house.
She brought the maid with her into tlie
drawing-room, in the gayest of good spirits,
and presented Ehoda to Mountjoy.
' What a blessing a good long walk is, if
we only knew it ! ' she exclaimed. ' Look at
my little maid's colour ! Who would suppose
that she came here with heavy eyes and pale
cheeks.^ Except tliat she loses her way in
the town, whenever she goes out alone, we
liave every reason to congratulate ourselves
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 199
on our residence at Honey buzzard. The
doctor is Elioda's good genius, and the doctor's
wife is her fairy godmother.'
Mountjoy's courtesy having offered tlie
customary congratulations, the maid was per-
mitted to retire; and Iris was free to express
her astonishment at the friendly relations
established (by means of the dinner- table)
between the two most dissimilar men on tlie
face of creation.
' Til ere is something overwhelming,' she
declared, ' in the bare idea of your having
asked him to dine with you — on such a short
acquaintance, and lacing such a man ! I should
like to have peeped in, and seen you enter-
taining your guest with the luxuries of tlie
hotel larder. Seriously, Hugh, your social
sympathies have taken a range for which I
was not prepared. After the example that
you have set me, I feel ashamed of Iiaving
doubted ^xhether Mr. Vimixnny was worthy
2CO BLIND LOVE
of his charming wife. Don't suppose that I
am ungrateful to the doctor ! He has found
his way to my regard, after what he has done
for Ehoda. I only fail to understand how he
has possessed himself of your sympathies.'
So she ran on, enjoying tlie exercise oi
her own sense of humour in innocent igno-
rance of the serious interests wliicli she was
Mountjoy tried to stop her, and tried in
'No, no,' she persisted as mischievously
as ever, ' the subject is too interesting to be
dismissed. I am dying to know how you and
your guest got through tlie dinner. Did he
take more wine than was good for him ? And
when he forgot his good inanners, did he set
it all riglit again by saying, " Xo offence," and
passing the bottle ? '
Hugh could endure it no longer. ' Pray
control your higli spirits for a moment,'
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 201
lie said. ' I liavc news fur you from
Those words put an end to her outbreak
of gaiety in an instant.
' News from my father ? ' she asked.
' Is he comini]: here ? '
'No ; I have heard from him.'
' A letter ? '
'A telegram,' Mountjoy explained, 'in
answer to a letter from me. I did my best
to press your claims on liim, and I am glad
to say I have not failed.'
' Hugh, dear Hugh ! have you succeeded
in reconciling us ? '
Mountjoy produced the telegram. ' I
asked Mr. Henley,' he said, ' to let me know
at once whether he would receive you, and
to answer plainly Yes or Xo. The message
might have been more kindly expressed —
but, at any rate, it is a favourable reply.'
202 BLIND LOVE
Iris read the telegram. ' Is there another
father in the world,' she said sadly, ' who
would tell his daughter, when she asks to come
liome, that he will receive her on trial ? '
' Surely, you are not offended with him.
Iris ? '
She shook her head. ' I am like you,'
she said. ' I know him too well to be offended.
He shall find me dutiful, he shall find me
patient. I am afraid I must not expect you
to wait for me in Honeybuzzard. Will you
tell my father that I hope to return to him in
a week's time ? '
' Pardon me, Iris, I see no reason wliy you
should waste a week in this town. On the
contrary, the more eager you show j^ourself to
return to your father, the more Hkely you are
to recover your place in liis estimation. I
had planned to take you home by the next
Iris looked at him in astonishment. ' Is it
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 203
possible that you mean what you sayP' slie
' My dear, I do most assuredly mean what
I say. Why should you hesitate? What
possible reason can there be for staying here
any longer ? '
' Oh, Hugh, liow you disappoint me !
What has become of your kind feeling, your
sense of justice, your consideration for others?
Poor Mrs. Vimpany ! '
' What has Mrs. Vimpany to do with it ? '
Iris was indignant.
' What has Mrs. Vimpany to do with it ? '
she repeated. ' After all that I owe to that
good creature's kindness ; after I have pro-
mised to accompany her— she has so few
happy days, poor soul ! — on excursions to
places of interest in the ncighbourliood, do
you expect me to leave her — no ! it's worse
than that — do you expect me to throw her
aside like an old dress tliat I have worn out ?
204 BLIND LOVE
And tliis after I have so unjustly, so ungrate-
fully suspected her in my own thoughts?
Shameful ! shameful ! '
Witli some difficulty, Mountjoy controlled
himself. After what she had just said, his
lips were sealed on the subject of Mrs.
Yimpany's true character. He could only
persist in appealing to her duty to her
' You are allowing your quick temper to
carry you to strange extremities,' he answered.
' If I think it of more importance to hasten a
reconciliation with your father than to en-
courage you to make excursions with a lady
whom you have only known for a week or
two, what have I done to deserve such an out-
break of vca^QY ? Hush ! Not a word more
now ! Here is the lady herself.'
As he spoke, Mrs. Yimpany joined tliem ;
rcturnhig from her interview with her
liusband at tlie inn. She looked first at Iris,
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 203
and at once perceived signs of disturbance in
the young lady's face.
Concealing her anxiety under tliat wonder-
ful sta<xe smile, wliich aflbrds a refug-e to so
many secrets, Mrs. Vimpany said a few words
excusing her absence. Miss Henley answered,
without the slightest change in her friendly
manner to the doctor's wife. The signs of
disturbance were evidently attributable to
some entirely unimportant cause from Mrs.
Yimpany's point of view. Mr. Mountjoy's
discoveries had not been communicated yet.
In Hugh's state of mind, there was some
irritating influence in tlie presence of the
mistress of the house, which applied the spur
to liis wits. He miscliievously proposed sub-
mitting to her tlie question in dispute between
Iris and liimself.
' It is a very simple matter,' he said to
Mrs. Vimpany. ' Miss Henley's father is
anxious that she should return to him, after
2o6 BLIND LOVE
an estrangement between them which is hap-
pily at an end. Do you think she ought to
allow any accidental engagements to prevent
her from going home at once ? If she requests
your indulgence, under the circumstances,
has she any reason to anticipate a refusal ? '
Mrs. Yimpany's expressive eyes looked up,
with saintly resignation, at the dirty ceiling
— and asked in dumb show Avhat she had
done to deserve the injury implied by a
' Mr. Mountjoy,' she said sternly, ' you
insult me by asking the question. Dear Miss
Henley,' she continued, turning to Iris, ' you
will do me justice, I am sure. Am I capable of
allowing my own feelings to stand in the way,
when your filial duty is concerned ? Leave
me, my sweet friend. Go ! I entreat you, go
home ! '
She retired up the stage — no, no ; she
withdrew to the otlier end of the room — and
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 207
burst into the most becoming of all human
tears, theatrical tears. Impulsive Iris hastened
to comfort the personification of self-sacrifice,
the model of all that was most unselfish in
female submission. ' For shame ! for shame ! '
she whispered, as she passed Mountjoy.
Beaten again by Mrs. Vimpany — with no
ties of relationship to justify resistance to Miss
Henley ; with two women against him, en-
trenched behind the privileges of their sex
— the one last sacrifice of his own feelings, in
the interests of Iris, that Hugh could make
was to control the impulse wdiich naturally
urged him to leave the house. In the help-
less position in which he had now placed him-
self, he could only wait to see what course
Mrs. Yimpany might think it desirable to
take. Would she request him, in her most
politely malicious way, to bring his visit to an
end? No: she looked at him — hesitated —
directed a furtive glance towards the view of
2o8 BLIND LOVE
the street from the Avindow — smiled mysteri-
ously — and completed ilie sacrifice of her
own feelim^s in tliese words :
'Dear Miss Ilenley, let me lielp yon to
Iris positively refused.
' No,' slie said, ' I don't agree with Mr.
Mountjoy. My father leaves it to me to name
the day when w^e meet. Iliold you, my dear,
to our euG^ao^ement — I don't leave an affection-
ate friend as I mi<2;ht leave a stranger.'
Even if Mr. Mountjoy communicated his
discoveries to Miss Henley, on the way home,
there Avould be no danger now of her
believing him. Mrs. Yim2:)any put her
power fid arm round the generous Iris, and,
with inlinite grace, thanked lier by a kiss.
' Your kindness will make iny lonely lot in
life harder than ever to bear,' she murmured,
' when you are gone.'
' But w^e may liope to meet in London,'
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 209
Iris reminded her, ' unless Mr. Vimpany alters
his mind about leaving this place.'
' My husband will not do that, dear. He
is determined to try his luck, as he says, in
London. In tlie meantime you will give me
your address, won't you ? Perhaps you will
even promise to write to me ? '
Iris instantly gave her promise, and ^vrote
down her address in London.
Mountjoy made no attempt to interfere :
it was needless.
If the maid had not fallen ill on the
journey, and if Mrs. Yimpany had followed
Miss Henley to London, there would have
been little to fear in the discovery of her
address — and there was little to fear now.
The danger to Iris was not in what might
happen while she was living under her father's
roof, but in what might happen if she was
detained (by plans for excursions) in Mr.
VOL. I. p
2IO BLIND LOVE
Yimpany's house, until Lord Harry might join
Eather than permit tliis to happen, Hugh
(in sheer desperation) meclitatcd charging Mrs.
Vimpany, to her face, with being the Irish
lord's spy, and proving tlie accusation by
challenging her to produce the registered
letter and the diamond pin.
While he was still struggling with his owni
reluctance to inflict this degrading exposure
on a woman, the talk between the two ladies
came to an end. Mrs. Vimpany returned
again to the wdndow. On this occasion, she
looked out into the street — with her handker-
chief (was it used as a signal ?) exhibited in
her liand. Iris, on her side, advanced to
Mountjoy. Easily moved to anger, lier
nature was incapable of sullen perseverance
in a state of enmit3^ To see Hugh si ill
patiently waiting — still risking the chances of
insult — devoted to lier, and foroivinir her — was
HER FATHER'S MESSAGE 211
at once a reproach that punished Iris, and a
mute appeal that no true woman's lieart could
With tears in her eyes, she said to him :
' There must be no coolness between you and
me. I lost my temper, and spoke shamefully
to you. My dear, I am indeed sorry for it.
You are never hard on me — you won't be
hard on me now ? '
She offered her hand to him. He had
just raised it to his lips — when tlie drawing-
room door was roughly opened. They both
The man of all others whom Hugli least
desired to see was the man who now entered
the room. The victim of ' light claret ' —
privately directed to lurk in the street, until
he saw a handkerchief fluttering at the window
— had returned to the house ; primed with his
clever wife's instructions ; read}^ and eager to
be even with Mountjoy for tlie dinner at the inn.
212 BLIND LOVE
ME. VIMPANY ON INTOXICATION
'HEEE was no unsteadiness in the
doctor's walk, and no flush on
]iis face. He certainly did strut
Avhen he entered the room ; and he held up
his head with dignity, when he discovered
Mountjoy. But he seemed to preserve his
self-control. Was the man sober again al-
His wife approached him with her set
smile ; the appearance of her lord and master
filled Mrs. Yimpany with perfectlj-assumed
emotions of agreeable surprise.
' This is an unexpected pleasure,' she said.
' You seldom favour us Avith your company,
MR. VIM P ANY ON INTOXICATION 213
my clear, so early in tlie evening. Are there
fewer patients in want of your advice than
usual ? '
' You are mistaken, Arabella. I am here
in the performance of a painful clut3\'
The doctor's language, and the doctor's
manner, presented him to Iris in a character
that was new to her. What effect had he
produced on Mrs. Almpany? That excellent
friend to travellers in distress lowered her
eyes to tlie floor, and modestly preserved
silence. Mr. Yimpany proceeded to the per-
formance of his duty ; his painful responsi-
bility seemed to strike him at first from a
medical point of view.
' If there is a poison whicli undermines the
sources of life,' he remarked, 'it is alcohol.
If there is a vice that deirrades humanitv, it is
intoxication. Mr. Mountjoy, are you aware
that I am looking at you P '
' Impossible not to be aware of that,'
214 BLIND ILOVE
Hui^li answered. ' May I ask wliv you are
looking at me ? ' It was not eas}^ to listen
gravely to Mr. Yimpany's denunciation of in-
temperance, after what had taken place at
the dinner of that day. Hugh smiled. The
moral majesty of the doctor entered its
'This is really shameful,' he said. 'The
least you can do is to take it seriously.'
'What is it?' Mountjoy asked. 'And
why am I to take it seriously ? '
Mr. Yimpany's reply was, to say the least
of it, indirect. If such an expression may be
permitted, it smelt of the stage. Yiewed in
connection with Mrs. Yimpany's persistent
assumption of silent humility, it suggested to
Mountjoy a secret understanding, of some
kind, between husband and wife.
'What has become of j^our conscience,
sir ? ' Mr. Yimpany demanded. ' Is that silent
monitor dead within you ? After giving me a
MR. VI MP ANY ON INTOXICATIO.\ 215
bad dinner, do you demand an explanation ?
Ha ! you shall have it.'
Having delivered himself to this effect,
he added action to words. Walking grandly
to the door, he threw it open, and saluted
Mountjoy with an ironical bow. Iris ob-
served that act of insolence ; her colour
rose, her eyes glittered. 'Do you see what
he has just done ? ' she said to Mrs. Yim-
The doctor's wife answered softly: 'I don't
understand it.' After a glance at her husband,
she took Iris by the hand: 'Dear Miss Henley,
shall we retire to my room ? '
Iris drew her hand away. ' Not iniless
Mr. Mountjoy wishes it,' she said.
' Certainly not ! ' Hugh declared. ' Pray
remain here ; your presence will help me to
keep my temper.' He stepped up to Mr.
Yimpany. ' Have you any particular reason
for opening that door ? ' he asked.
2i6 BLIND LOVE
The doctor was a rascal ; but, to do liiin
justice, lie was uo coward. 'Yes/ he said,
'I liave a reasou.'
' What is it, if you please ? '
* Christian forbearance,' Mr. Yimpany
'Forbearance towards me?' Mountjoy
The doctor's dignity suddenly deserted
' Aha, my boy, you have got it at last ! '
he cried. 'It's pleasant to understand each
other, isn't it ? You see, I'm a plain-spoken
fellow ; I don't wish to give offence. If there's
one thing more than another I pride myself
on, it's my indulgence for human frailty.
But, in my position here, I'm obliged to
be careful. Upon my soul, I can't con-
tinue my acquaintance with a man who —
oh, come I come ! don't look as if you didn't
understand me. The circumstances are
MR. VIMPANV ON INTOXICATION 217
against you, sir. You have treated me in-
' Under what circumstances have I treated
you infamously?' Hugh asked.
' Under pretence of giving me a dinner,'
Mr. Vimpany shouted — ' the worst dinner I
ever sat down to ! '
His wife signed to him to be silent. He
took no notice of her. She insisted on being
understood. ' Say no more ! ' she warned
him, in a tone of command.
The brute side of his nature, roused by
Mountjoy's contemptuous composure, was
forcing its way outwards ; he set his wife at
' Then don't let him look at me as if lie
thought I was in a state of intoxication ! ' cried
tlie furious doctor. ' Tliere's the man. Miss,
who tried to make me tipsy,' lie went on,
actually addressing himself to Iris. 'Thanks
to my habits of sobriety, he has been caught
2i8 BLIND LOVE
ill his own trap. lies intoxicated. Ha,
friend Moiintjoy, liave you got tlie right
explanation at last ? There's tlie door,
sir ! '
Mrs. Vimpany felt that this outrage was
beyond endurance. If something Avas not
done to atone for it, Miss Henley Avould be
capable — her face, at that moment, answered
for her — of leaving the house wdtli Mr. Mount-
joy. Mrs. Vimpany seized her husband in-
dignantly by the arm.
' You brute, you have spoilt everything ! '
she said to him. ' Apologise directly to Mr.
Mountjoy. You w^on't ? '
' I won't I '
Experience had taught his wdfe Iioav to
break liini to her AvilL ' Do you remember
my diamond pin? ' she whispered.
He looked startled. Perhaps he thought
she had lost the pin.
' Where is it ? ' lie asked eagerly.
MR. VI MP ANY ON INTOXICATION 219
' Gone to London to be valued. Beg Mr.
Mountjoy's pardon, or I will put the money in
the bank — and not one shilling of it do you
In the meanwhile, Iris had justified Mrs.
Vimpany's apprehensions. Her indignation
noticed nothing but the insult offered to
Hugh. She was too seriously agitated to
be able to speak to him. Still admir-
ably calm, his one anxiety was to compose
'Don't be afraid,' he said; 'it is impossible
that I can degrade myself by quarrelling with
Mr. Yimpany. I only wait liere to know
what you propose to do. You have Mrs.
Yimpany to think of.'
' I have nobody to think of but You,' Iris
replied. ' But for me, j^ou would never have
been in this house. After tlie insult that has
been offered to you — oh, Hugh, I feel it too!
— let us return to London together. I have
220 BLIND LOVE
only to tell Ehoda we are going away, and to
make my preparations for travelling. Send
for me from the inn, and 1 will be ready in
time for tlie next train.'
Mrs. Vimpany approached Moimtjoy,
leading her husband.
' Sorry I have offended you,' the doctor
said. ' Beg your pardon. It's only a joke.
No offence, I hope ? '
His servility was less endurable than his
insolence. Telhng him that he need say no
more, Monntjoy bowed to Mrs. Yimpany, and
left the room. She returned his bow me-
chanically, in silence. Mr. Vimpany followed
Hugh out — thinking of the diamond pin, and
eager to open the house door, as another
act of submission Avhich might satisfy his
Even a clever woman Avill occasionally
make mistakes ; especially when her temper
happens to have been roused. Mrs. Yimpany
MR. VIMPAAY Oy IXTOXICATION 211
found herself in a false position, due entirely
to her own imprudence.
She had been guilty of three serious
errors. In the first place, she Iiad taken it
I'or granted that Mr. Yimpany's restorative
mixture would completely revive the sober
state of his brains. In the second place, she
had trusted him Avitli her vengeance on the
man who had found his way to her secrets
through her husband's intemperance. In the
third place, she had rashly assumed that the
doctor, in carrying out her instructions for
insulting Mountjoy, would keep within the
limits whicli she had prescribed to him, when
she hit on the audacious idea of attributing
his disgraceful conduct to the temptation
offered by his host's example. As a conse-
quence of these acts of imprudence, she had
exposed herself to a misfortune that she
iionestly dreaded — the loss of the place which
she had carefully maintained in Miss Henley's
222 BLIND LOVE
estimation. In the contradictory confusion of
feelings, so often found in women, this deceit-
ful and dangerous creature had been con-
quered — little by little, as she had herself
described it — by that charm of sweetness and
simplicity in Iris, of which her own de-
praved nature presented no trace. She now
spoke with hesitation, almost with timidity,
in addressing the woman whom she had so
cleverly deceived, at the time when they first
' Must I give up all. Miss Henley, that I
most value ? ' she asked.
'I hardly understand you, Mrs. Yimpany.'
' I will try to make it plainer. Do you
really mean to leave me, this evening ? '
' I do.'
' May I own that I am grieved to hear it?
Your departure will deprive me of some
happy hours, in your company.'
MR. VIM P ANY ON INTOXICATION 223
' Your husband's conduct leaves me no
alternative,' Iris replied.
' Pray do not humiliate me by speaking of
my liusband ! I only want to know if there
is a harder trial of my fortitude still to come.
Must I lose the privilege of being your friend?'
' I hope I am not capable of such injustice
as that,' Iris declared. ' It Avould be liard
indeed to lay the blame of Mr. Vimpany's
shameful behaviour on you. I don't forget
that you made him offer an apology. Some
women, married to such a man as tJiat, might
have been afraid of him. No, no ; you have
been a good fi'iend to me — and I mean to
Mrs. Yimpany's gratitude was too sincerely
felt to be expressed with lier customary
readiness. She only said wJiat the stupidest
woman in existence coidd have said : 'Thank
224 BLIND LOVE
111 tlie silence tliat followed, the rapid
movement of carriage-wheels became audible
in the street. The sound stopped at the door
of the doctor's house.
THE MOCKERY OF DECEIT
^AD Momitjoy arrived to take Iris
away, before her preparations for
travelling were complete? Both
the ladies hurried to the window, but they
were too late. The rapid visitor, already
liidden from them under the portico, was
knocking smartly at the door. In another
minute, a man's voice in the hall asked for
'Mss Henley.' The tones — clear, mellow, and
pleasantly varied here and there by the Irish
accent — were not to be mistaken by anyone
who had already heard tliem. The man in
the hall was Lord Harry.
VOL. I. Q
226 BLIND LOVE
In that serious emergency, Mrs. Yimpany
recovered her presence of mind.
^She made for the door, with the object
of speaking to Lord Harry before he could
present himself in the drawing-room. But
Iris had heard him ask for her in the hall ;
and that one circumstance instantly stripped
of its concealments the character of the
woman in whose integrity she had believed.
Her first impression of Mrs. Yimpany — so
sincerely repented, so eagerly atoned for —
had been the right impression after all !
Younger, ligliter, and quicker tlinn the doc-
tor's wife, Iris reached tlie door first, and laid
her hand on the lock.
' Wait a minute,' she said.
Mrs. Yimpany hesitated. For the first
time in lier life at a loss wliat to say, slie
could only sign to Iris to stand back. Iris
refused to move, t^lie put lier tei'rible ques-
tion in the plainest words :
THE MOCKERY OF DECEIT 227
' How does Lord Harry know that I am
in this house ? '
The wretched woman (Hstening intently
for the sound of a step on the stairs) refused
to submit to a shameful exposure, even now.
To her perverted moral sense, any falsehood
was acceptable, as a means of hiding herself
from discovery by Iris. In the very face of
detection, the skilled deceiver kept up the
mockery of deceit.
' My dear,' she said, ' what has come to
you ? Why won't you let me go to my
room ? '
Iris eyed her with a look of scornful sur-
prise. ' What next ? ' she said. ' Are you
impudent enough to pretend that I have not
found you out, yet ? '
Sheer desperation still sustained Mrs.
Yimpany's courage. She played her assumed
character against the contemptuous incre-
dulity of Iris, as she luxd sometimes played
228 BLIND LOVE
her theatrical characters agamst the hissing
and hooting of a brutal audience.
' Miss Henley,' she said, ' you forget your-
' Do you think I didn't see in your face,'
Iris rejoined, 'that you heard him, too?
Answer my question.'
'What question ? '
' You have just heard it.'
' No ! '
' You false woman ! '
' Don't forget. Miss Henley, that you are
speaking to a lady.'
' I am speaking to Lord Harry's spy ! '
Their voices rose loud : the excitement on
either side had readied its climax ; neither
the one nor the other was composed enough
to notice the sound of the carriage-wheels,
leaving the house again. In tlie meanwhile,
nobody came to the drawing-room door.
THE MOCKERY OF DECEIT 229
Mrs. Yimpany wa^ too well acquainted with
the hot-headed Irish lord not to conclude that
he would have made himself heard, and
would have found his w^ay to Iris, but for
some obstacle, below stairs, for which he was
not prepared. The doctor's wife did justice
to the doctor at last. Another person had,
in all probabihty, heard Lord Harry's voice
— and that person might have been her
Was it possible that he remembered the
service wdiich she had asked of him ; and,
even if he had succeeded in calling it to
mind, was his discretion to be trusted ? As
those questions occurred to her, the desire to
obtain some positive information was more
than she was able to resist. Mrs. Yimpany
attempted to leave the drawing-room for the
But the same motive had already urged
230 BLIND LOVE .
Miss Ilcnlcy to action. Again, tlie youiigoi-
woman outstripped the elder. Iris descended
the stairs, resolved to discover the cause of
the sudden suspension of events in the lower
part of the house.
MRS. YIMPAXYS FAREWELTi
THE doctor's wife .
Henley out of the
room, as far as
the landini^ — and
She had her-
? reasons for placing
^' this restraint on
jfef*-^ herself. The posi-
-*^'^'^ tion of the landing
concealed her from the
view of a person in the
lall. If she only lis-
tened for the sound of
232 BLIND LOVE
voices she might safely discover whether
Lord Harry was, or was not, still in the
house. In the first event, it would be easy
to interrupt his interview with Iris, before
the talk could lead to disclosures which Mrs.
Vimpany had every reason to dread. In the
second event, there would be no need to
Meanwhile, Iris opened the dining-room
door and looked in.
Nobody was there. The one other room
on the ground floor, situated at the back of
the building, was the doctor's consulting-
room. She knocked at the door. Mr.
Vimpany 's voice answered : ' Come in.' There
he was alone, drinking brandy and water,
and smoking his big black cigar.
' Where is Lord Harry ? ' she said.
' In Ireland, I suppose,' Mr. Vimpany
Iris wasted no time in making useless
MRS. VIMPANV'S FAREWELL 233
inquiries. She closed the door again, and
left him. He, too, was undoubtedly in the
conspiracy to keep lier deceived. How had
it been done? Where Avas the wild lord, at
that moment ?
Whilst she was pursuing these reflections
in the hall, Ehoda came up from the servants'
tea-table in tlie kitchen. Her mistress gave
her the necessary instructions for packing,
and promised to help her before long. Mrs.
Vimpany's audacious resolution to dispute the
evidence of her own senses, still dwelt on Miss
Henley's mind. Too angry to think of the
embarrassment which an interview with Lord
Harry would produce, after they had said
tlieir farewell words in Ireland, she was
determined to prevent the doctor's wife from
speaking to him first, and claiming him as an
accomplice in her impudent denial of the
truth. If he liad been, by any chance,
deluded into leavini*; tlie house, he would
234 BLIND LOVE
sooner or later discover the trick tliat liad
been played on liim, and would certainly
return. Iris took a chair m tlie hall.
It is due to the doctor to relate that he
had indeed justified his wife's confidence in
The diamond pin, undergoing valuation
in London, still represented a present terror
in his mind. The money, the money — he was
the most attentive husband in England wdien
he thought of the money ! At the time when
Lord Harry's carriage stopped at his house-
door, lie was in the dining-room, taking a
bottle of l)i'andy from the cellaret in the- side-
board. Looking instantly out of the window,
he discovered who the visitor was, and de-
cided on consulting his instructions in the
pocket-diary. The attempt was rendered
useless, as soon as he had opened the book,
by the unlucky activity of the servant in
MA'S. VIMPANV'S FAREWl-lLL 235
answering tlie door. llcr master stopped
lier in the liall. Tie was ])leasantly conscious
of the recovery of liis cunning. But his
memory (far from active under tlie most
favourable circumstances) was slower than
ever at helping him now. On the spur of the
moment, he could only call to mind that he
had been ordered to prevent a meeting
between Lord Ilarry and Iris. ' Show the
gentleman into my consulting-room,' he said.
Lord Harry found the doctor enthroned
on liis professional chair, surprised and de-
lighted to see his distinguished friend. The
impetuous Lishman at once asked for Miss
' Gone,' Mr. Yimpany answered.
' Gone — where P ' the wild lord wanted to
' To London.'
'By herself?' '
' Xo ; with Mr. Ilugli Mountjoy.'
236 BLIND LOVE
Lord Harry seized tlie doctor by the
shoulders, and shook hmi : ' You don't mean
to tell nie Mountjoy is going to marry
her ? ' .
Mr. Yimpany feared nothing but the loss
of money. The weaker and the older man of
the two, he nevertheless followed the young
lord's example, and shook him with right
good- wall. ' Let's see how you like it, in
your turn,' he said. ' As for Mountjoy, I
don't know whether he is married or single — '
and don't care.'
' The devil take your obstinacy ! When
did they start ? '
' The devil take your questions ! They
started not long since.'
' Might I catch them at the station ? '
' Yes ; if vou c^o at once.'
So the desperate doctor carried out his
wife's instructions — -without rememberinor the
conditions wdiich liad accompanied them.
MRS. VIMPANY'S FAREWELL 237
The way to tlie station took Lord Harry-
past tlie inn. He saw Hugh Mountjoy,
through the open house door, paying his bill
•at the bar. In an instant tlie carriage was
stopped, and the two men (never on friendly
terms) were formally bowing to each other.
' I was told I should find you,' Lord Harry
said, ' with Miss Henley, at the station.'
' Who gave you your information ? '
' Yimpany — the doctor.'
' He ought to know that the train isn't
due at the station for an hour yet.'
' Has the blackguard deceived me ? One
word more, Mr. Mountjoy. Is Miss Henley
at the inn ? '
' Are you going with her to London ? '
' I must leave Miss Henley to answer
' Where is she, sir P '
' There is an end to everything, my lord,
238 BLIND LOVE
in the world we live in. You liave reached
the end of my readiness to answer questions.'
The Englishman and tlie Irishman looked
at each other : the Anglo-Saxon was impene-
trably cool ; the Celt was fiuslied and angry.
They might have been on the brink of a
quarrel, but for Lord Harry's native quick-
ness of perception, and his exercise of it at
that moment. When he had called at Mr.
Vimpany's house, and had asked for Iris, the
doctor had got rid of him by means of a lie.
After this discovery, at what conclusion could
he arrive ? The doctor was certainly keeping
Iris out of his way. Eeasoning in this rapid
manner, Lord Harry let one offence pass, in
his headlon<^ eagerness to resent another. He
instantly left Mountjoy. Again, the carriage
rattled back aloncf the street ; but it was
stopped before it readied Mr. Vimpany's
Lord Harry knew the people whom he
MK:^. VIMP AMY'S FAREWELL 230
had to (leal with, and took measures to
approach the house silently, on foot. The
coachman received orders to look out for a
signal, which should tell him when he was
Mr. Yimpany's ears, vigilantly on the
watcli for suspicious events, detected no
sound of carriage-wheels and no noisy use of
the knocker. Still on his guard, however, a
ring at the house-bell disturbed him in liis
consulting-room. Peeping into the hall, he
saw Iris opening the door, and stole back to
liis room. ' Tlie devil take her!' he said,
alhuling to Miss Henley, and thinking of the
enviable proprietor of tlie diamond pin.
At tlie unexpected apj)carance of Iris,
Lord Harry forgot every consideration which
ouglit to liave been present to his mind, at
that critical moment.
He advanced to lier witli both liands lield
out in cordial irreetino-. She sijined to him
240 BLIND LOVE
contemptuously to stand back — and spoke in
tones cautiously lowered, after a glance at tlie
door of the consulting-room.
' My only reason for consenting to see
you,' she said, ' is to protect myself from
further deception. Your disgraceful conduct
is known to me. Go now,' she continued,
pointing to the stairs, ' and consult with your
spy, as soon as you like.' The Irish lord
listened^guiltily conscious of having deserved
what she had said to him — without attempt-
ing to utter a word in excuse.
Still posted at the head of the stairs, the
doctor's wife heard Iris speaking ; but the
tone was not loud enough to make the words
intelhgible at that distance ; neither was any
other voice audible in reply. Vaguely sus-
picious of some act of domestic treachery,
Mrs. Yimpany began to descend the stairs.
At the turning: which o^ave her a view of tlie
hall, she stopped ; thunderstruck by the dis-
MRS. VIMPANY'S FAREWELL 241
CO very of Lord HaiTy and Miss Henley,
The presence of a third person seemed, in
some degree, to reheve Lord Harry. He ran
upstairs to salute Mrs. Yimpany, and was met
again by a cold reception and a hostile look.
Strongly and strangely contrasted, the two
confronted each other on the stairs. The
faded woman, wan and ghastly under cruel
stress of mental suffering, stood face to face
with a line, tall, lithe man, in the prime of his
health and strength. Here were the bright
blue eyes, the winning smile, and the natural
grace of movement, which find their own way
to favour in the estimation of the gentler
sex. This irreclaimable wanderer among the
perilous by-ways of the earth — christened
' Irish blackguard,' among respectable mem-
bers of society, when they spoke of him
behind his back — attracted attention, even
among the men. Looking at his daring, finely-
VOL. I. R
242 BLIND LOVE
formed face, they noticed (as an exception
to a general rule, in these days) the total
suppression, by the razor, of whiskers,
moustache, and beard. Strangers wondered
whether Lord Harry was an actor or a Eoman
Catholic priest. Among chance acquaintances,
those few favourites of Nature who are
possessed of active brains, guessed that his
life of adventure might Avell have rendered
disguise necessary to his safety, in more than
one part of the world. Sometimes they
boldly put the question to him. The hot
temper of an Irishman, in moments of excite-
ment, is not infrequently a sweet temper in
moments of' calm. What they called Lord
Harry's good-nature owned readily that he
had been indebted, on certain occasions, to
tlie protection of a false beard, and perhaps a
colouring of his face and hair to match. The
same easy disposition now asserted itself,
under the merciless enmity of Mrs. Yimpany's
MRS. VIMPANV'S FAREWELL 243
eyes. ' If I have done anything to offend
you,' he said, with an air of puzzled Juimihty,
' I'm sure I am sorry for it. Don't be angry,
Arabella, with an old friend. Wliy won't
you shake hands? '
' I have kept your secret, and done your
dirty work,' Mrs. Yimpany replied. 'And'
what is my reward ? Miss Henley can tell
you how your Irish blundering has ruined me
in a lady's estimation. Shake hands, indeed ?
You will never shake hands with Me again as
long as you live ! '
She said those words without looking? at
him ; her eyes were resting on Iris now.
From the moment when she had seen the two
together, she knew that it was all over ;
further denial in the face of plain proofs
would be useless indeed ! Submission was
the one alternative left.
' Miss Henley,' she said, ' if you can feel
pity for another woman's sorrow and shame,
244 BLIND LOVE
let me have a last word with you — out of this
There was nothing artificial in her tones
or her looks ; no acting could have imitated
the sad sincerity with which she spoke.
Touched by that cliange, Iris accompanied
her as she ascended the stairs. After a little
hesitation, Lord Harry followed them. Mrs*
Yimpany turned on him Avhen they reached
the drawinfT-room landini^. ' Must I shut the
door in your face ? ' she asked.
He was as pleasantly patient as ever :
' You needn't take the trouble to do that,
my dear ; I'll only ask your leave to sit down
and wait on the stairs. When you have done
with Miss Henley, just call me in. And, by
the way, don't be alarmed in case of a little
noise — say a heavy man tumbling downstairs.
If the blackguard it's your misfortune to be
married to happens to show himself, I shall be
under the necessity of kicking, him. That's all.'
JIIA'S. VIMPANY'S FAREWELL 245
Mrs. Vimpany closed the door. She
spoke to Iris respectfully, as she might have
addressed a stranger occupying a higher rank
in life than herself.
'There is an end, madam, to our short
acquaintance ; and, as we botli know, an end
to it for ever. When we first met — let me
tell the truth at last ! — I felt a malicious
pleasure in deceiving you. After that time,
I was surprised to find that you grew on my
liking. Can you understand the wickedness
that tried to resist you ? It was useless ;
your good influence has been too strong for
me. Strange, isn't it ? I have lived a life of
deceit, among bad people. What could you
expect of me, after that ? I heaped lies on
lies — I would have denied that the sun was
in the heavens — rather than find myself de-
graded in your opinion. Well ! that is all
over — useless, quite useless now. Pray don't
mistake me. I am not attempting to excuse
246 BLIND LOVE
myself ; a confession was due to you ; the
confession is made. It is too late to hope
that you will forgive me. If you will permit
it, I have only one favour to ask. Forget
She turned away with a last hopeless look,
which said as plainly as if in words : ' I am
not worth a reply.'
Generous Iris insisted on speaking to her.
' I believe you are truly sorry for what
you have done,' she said : ' I can never forget
that — I can never forget You.' She held out
lier pitying hand. Mrs. Yimpany was too
bitterly conscious of the past to touch it.
Even a spy is not beneath the universal reach
of the heartache. There were tears in the
miserable woman's eyes when she had looked
her last at Iris Henley.
LORD Harry's defexce
FTER a sliort inter-
val, the drawing-
room door was
ilh Waiting on
the Iridi Icid
7^ ji, asked if
r-f// V\\\Tl, ,
' This is not
248 BLIND LOVE
she said ; ' I must leave you to decide for
Lord Harry crossed tlie room to speak to
her — and stopped. There was no sign of
relenting towards him in that dearly-loved
face. ' I wonder whether it would be a relief
to you,' he suggested with piteous liumility,
' if I went away ? '
If she ]iad been true to herself, she would
have said, Yes. Where is the woman to be
found, in her place, with a heart hard enough
to have set her that example P Slie pointed
to a chair. lie felt her indulgence gratefully.
Following the impulse of the moment, lie
attempted to excuse his conduct.
' Tliere is only one thing I can say for
myself,' he confessed, ' I didn't begin by de-
ceiving you. While you liad your eye on
me. Iris, I was an honourable man.'
This extraordinary defence reduced her to
silence. Was there another man in the world
LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 249
who would have pleaded for pardon in that
way ? ' I'm afraid I have not made myself
understood,' he said. ' May I try again ? '
' If you please.'
Tlie vagabond nobleman made a resolute
effort to explain himself intelligibly, this
' See now^ ! We said good-b3^e, over there,
in tlie poor old island. Well, indeed I meant
it, when I owned that I was unwortliy of you.
I didn't contradict you, when you said 3'ou
could never be my wife, after such a life as I
have led. And, do remember, I submitted to
your returning to England, witliout presuming
to make a complaint. Ah, my sweet girl,
it was easy to submit, while I could look at
you, and hear the sound of your voice, and
beo' for that last kiss — and o-et it. Eeverend
gentlemen talk about the fall of Adam. "What
was that to the fall of Harry, wlien he was
back in his own little cottage, without the
250 BLIND LOVE
hope of ever seeing you again ? To the best
of ni}^ recollection, the serpent that tempted
Eve was up a tree. ' I found the serpent that
tempted Me, sitting waiting in my own arm-
cliair, and bent on nothing worse than borrow-
ing a trifle of money. Need I say who she
was? I don't doubt that you think her a
Never ready in sj)eaking of acts of kind-
ness, on her own part, Iris answered with
some little reserve : ' I have learnt to think
better of Mrs. Yimpany than you suppose.'
Lord Harry began to look like a happy
man, for the first time since he iiad entered
' I ought to have known it ! ' he burst out.
'Yours is the well-balanced mind, dear, tliat
tempers justice with mercy. j\ [other Yimpany
lias liad a hard life of it. Just change places
with her for a minute or so — a'nd you'll
understand wliat slie has had to ao throujzh.
LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 251
Find yourself, for instance, in Ireland, with-
out the means to take you back to England.
Add to that, a liusband who sends you away
to make money for him at the theatre, and a
manager (not an Irishman, thank Gocl !) who
refuses to engage you — afcer your acting has
filled his dirty pockets in past days — because
your beauty has faded with time. Doesn't
your bright imagination see it all now? My
old friend Arabella, ready and anxious to
serve me — and a sinking at this poor fellow's
heart when he knew, if he once lost the trace
of you, he might lose it for ever — there's the
situation, as they call it on the stage. I wish
I could say for myself what I may say for
Mrs. Yimpany. It's such a pleasure to a
clever woman to engage in a little deceit— we
can't blame her, can we ? '
Iris protested gently against a code of
morality which included the right of deceit
among the privileges of the sex. Lord Harry
252 BLIND LOVE
slipped through her fingers with the admirable
Irish readiness ; he agreed with Miss Henley
that he was entirely wrong.
' And don't spare me while you're about
it,' he suggested. ' Lay all the blame of that
shameful stratagem on my shoulders. It was
a despicable thing to do. When I had you
watched, I acted in a manner — I won't say
unworthy of a gentleman ; have I been a
gentleman since I first ran away from home ?
Why, it's even been said my Avay of speaking
is no longer the way of a gentleman ; and
small wonder, too, after the company I've
kept. Ah, w^ell ! I'm off again, darling, on a
sea voyage. Will you forgive me now ? or
will you wait till I come back, if I do come
back ? God knows ! ' He dropped on his
knees, and kissed lier hand. ' Anyway,' he
said, ' whether I live or whether I die, it will
be some consolation to remember that I asked
your pardon — and perhaps got it.'
LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 253
' Take it, Harry ; I can't help forgiving
you ! '
She had done her best to resist him, and
she had answered in tliose merciful words.
The effect was visible, perilously visible, as
he rose from his knees. Her one chance of
keeping the distance between them, on which
she had been too weak to insist, was not to
encourage him by silence. Abruptly, des-
perately, she made a commonplace inquiry
about his proposed voyage. ' Tell me,' she
resumed, ' where are you going when you
leave England ? '
' Oh, to find money, dear, if I can — to
pick up diamonds, or to hit on a mine of gold,
and so forth.'
The fine observation of Iris detected some-
thing not quite easy in his manner, as he
made that reply. He tried to change the
subject: she deliberately returned to it.
'Your account of your travelling-plans is
254 BLIND LOVE
rather vague,' she told him. ' Do 3^011 know
when you are hkely to return P '
He took her hand. One of the rings on
her fingers happened to be turned the wrong
way. He set it in the right position, and dis-
covered an opaL ' Ah ! the unlucky stone ! '
he cried, and turned it back again out of
sight. She drew away her hand. ' I asked
you,' she persisted, 'when you expect to
return ? '
He laughed — not so gaily as usual.
' How do I know I shall ever get back .^ '
he answered. ' Sometimes the seas turn
traitor, and sometimes the savages. I have
had so many narrow escapes of my life, I can't
expect my luck to last for ever.' He made
a second attempt to change the subject. ' I
wonder whether you're likely to pay another
visit to Ireland ? My cottage is entirely at
your disposal, Iris dear. Oh, when I'm out
of the way, of course ! The place seemed to
LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 255
please your fancy, when you saw it. You
will find it well taken care of, I answer for
Iris asked vvlio was taking care of liis
The wild lord's face saddened. He hesi-
tated ; rose from his chair ]-estlessly, and
walked away to the window ; returned, and
made up his mind to reply.
' My dear, you know her. She was the
old housekeeper at '
His voice failed him. He was unable, or
unwilling, to pronounce the name of Arthur's
Knowing, it is needless to say, that he
had alluded to Mrs. Lewson, Iris warmly
commended him fo-r takins^ care of her old
nurse. At the same time, she remembered
the unfriendly terms in which the house-
keeper had alluded to Lord Harry, when they
had talked of him.
256 BLIND LOVE
' Did you iincl no difficulty,' she asked, ' in
persuading Mrs. Lewson to enter your ser-
vice ? '
' Oh, yes, plenty of difficulty ; I found my
bad character in my way, as usual; It was
a relief to him, at that moment, to talk of
Mrs. Lewson ; the Irish humour and the Irisli
accent both asserted themselves in his reply.
' The curious old creature told me to my face
I was a scamp. I took leave to remind her
that it was the duty of a respectable person
like herself, to reform scamps ; I also men-
tioned that I was going away, and she would
be master and mistress too on my small
property. That softened her heart towards
me. You will mostly find old women amenable,
if you get at them by way of their dignity.
Besides, there was another lucky circumstance
that helped me. The neighbourhood of my
cottage has some attraction for Mrs. Lewson.
LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 257
She didn't say particularly what it was — and
I never asked her to tell me.'
' Surely you might have guessed it, with-
out being told,' Iris reminded him. ' Mrs.
Lewson's faithful heart loves poor Arthur's
memory — and Arthur's grave is not far from
' Don't speak of him ! '
It was said loudly, peremptorily, passion-
ately. He looked at her with angry astonish-
ment in his face. ' You loved him too ! ' he
said. 'Can you speak of him quietly? The
noblest, truest, sweetest man that ever the
Heavens looked on, foully assassinated. And
the wretch who murdered him still livinQ-
free — oh, what is God's providence about ? — -
is there no retribution that will follow him ? no
just hand that will revenge Arthur's death? '
As those fierce words escaped him, he was
no longer the easv, gentle, joyous creature
VOL. L S
2 58 BLIND LOVE
wliom Iris had known and loved. The furious
passions of the Celtic race glittered savagely
in his eyes, and changed to a grey horrid pallor
the healthy colour that was natural to his
face. ' Oh, my temper, my temper ! ' he
cried, as Iris shrank from him. ' She hates
me now, and no wonder.' He staggered away
from her, and burst into a convulsive fit of
crying, dreadful to hear. Compassion, divine
compassion, mastered the earthlier emotion of
terror in the great heart of the woman who
loved him. She followed him, and laid her
hand caressingly oli his shoulder. ' I don't
hate you, my dear,' she said. 'I am sorry
for Arthur — and, oh, so sorry for You ! ' He
caught her in his arms. His gratitude, his
repentance, his silent farewell were all ex-
pressed in a last kiss. It was a moment,
never to be forgotten to the end of their lives.
Before she could speak, before she could
think, he had left her.
LORD HARRY'S DEFENCE 259
She called liiiii back, through the open
door. He never returned ; he never even
replied. She ran to the window, and threw it
up — and was just in time to see him signal to
the carriage and leap into it. Her horror of
the fatal purpose that was but too plainly
rooted in him — her conviction that he was on
the track of the assassin, self-devoted to exact
the terrible penalty of blood for blood — em-
boldened her to insist on being heard. ' Come
back,' she cried. ' I must, I will, speak with
He waved his hand to her with a gesture
of despair. ' Start your horses,' he shouted
to the coachman. Alarmed by his voice and
his look, the man asked where he should
drive to. Lord Harry pointed furiously to
the onward road. ' Drive,' he answered, ' to
the Devil ! '
THE END OF THE FlKbT PEKIOD
26o BLIND LOVE
IRIS AT HOME
LITTLE more than four months had
passed, since the return of Iris to
her father's house.
Among other events which occurred,
during the earher part of that interval, the
course adopted by Hugh Mountjoy when Miss
Henley's suspicions of the Irisli lord were first
communicated to him, claims a foremost
It was impossible that the devoted friend
of Iris could look at her, when they met again
on their way to the station, without perceiving
IJ^/S AT HOME 26 r
the signs of serious agitation. Only waiting
until they were alone in the railway carriage
she opened her heart unreservedly to the man
in whose clear intellect and true sympathy slie
could repose implicit trust. He listened to
what she could repeat of Lord Harry's lan-
guage with but little appearance of surprise.
Iris had only reminded him of one, among the
disclosures which had escaped Mr. Yimpany
at the inn. Under the irresistible influence
of good wine, the doctor had revealed the
Irish lord's motive for remaining; in his own
country, after the assassination of Arthur
Mountjoy. Hugh met the only difficulty in
his way, without shrinking from it. He
resolved to clear his mind of its natural pre-
judice against the rival who had been pre-
ferred to him, before he assumed the responsi-
bility of guiding Ii'is by his advice.
When he had in some deo'ree recovered
confidence in his own unbiassed judgment, he
262 BLIND LOVE
entered on tlie question of Lord Harry's
purpose in leaving England.
Without attempting to dispute tlie con-
clusion at wliicli Iris had arrived, he did his
best to alleviate her distress. In his opinion,
he was careful to tell her, a discovery of
the destination to which Lord Harry pro-
posed to betake himself might be achieved.
The Irish lord's allusion to a new adventure
which would occupy him in searching for dia-
monds or gold, might indicate a contemplated
pursuit of the assassin, as well as a plausible
excuse to satisfy Iris. It was at least possible
that the murderer might have been warned of
his danger if he remained in England, and
that lie might have contemplated directing his
flight to a distant country, which would not only
offer a safe refuge, but also hold out (in its
mineral treasures) a hope of gain. Assuming
that tliese circumstances had really happened,
it was in Lord Harry's character to make sure
IRIS AT HOME 263
of liis revenge, by embarking in llie steam-sliip
by wliicli the assassin of Arthur Mountjoy
was a passenger.
Wild as this <]fiiess at tlie truth unclonbtedly
was, it had one merit : it might easily be put
to the test.
Hugh had bought the day's newspaper,
at the station. He proposed to consult the
shipping advertisements relating, in tlie first
place, to communication with the diamond-
mines and tlie gold-fields of South Africa.
This course of proceeding at once in-
formed him that the first steamer, bound for
that destination, would sail from London in
two days' time. The obvious precaution to
take was to have the Docks watched ; and
Mountjoy 's steady old servant, who knew
Lord Harry by sight, was the man to employ.
Iris naturally inquired what good end
could be attained, if the anticipated discovery
actually took place.
264 BLIND LOVE
To this Mount] oy answered, tliat the one
hope — a faint hope, he must needs confess —
of inducing Lord Harry to reconsider his
desperate purpose, lay in the influence of Iris
herself. She must address a letter to him,
announcing that his secret had been betrayed
by his own language and conduct, and declar-
ing that she would never again see him, or
hold any communication with him, if he per-
sisted in his savag^e resolution of reven<?e.
Such was the desperate experiment which
Mountjoy's generous and unselfish devotion
to Iris now proposed to try.
The servant (duly entrusted with Miss
Henley's letter) was placed on the watcli
— and the event which had been rec^arded
as little better than a forlorn hope proved
to be the event that really took place.
Lord Harry was a passenger by the steam-
Mountjoy's man presented the letter en-
The wild lord read ii—lcokedito use the messenger's own words) like a man cut to the heart,
and seemed at a loss what to say or do.
/R/S AT HOME 265
trusted to him, and asked respectfully if there
was any answer. The wild lord read it —
looked (to use the messenger's own words)
like a man cut to tlie heart — seemed at a loss
what to say or do — and only gave a verbal
answer; 'I sincerely thank Miss Henley, and
I promise to write when the sliip touches at
Madeira.' The servant continued to watch
him when he went on board the steamer ; saw
him cast a look backwards, as if suspecting
that he might have been followed ; and then
lost sight of him in the cabin. The vessel
sailed after a long interval of delay, but he
never reappeared on the deck.
The ambiguous messaf^e sent to her
aroused the resentment of Iris ; she thought it
cruel. For some weeks perhaps to come,
she was condemned to remain in doubt, and
was left to endure the trial of her patience,
without having Mountjoy at hand to en-
courage and console her. He had been called
266 BLIND LOVE
away to the South of France 1)y tlie ilhiess of
But the fortunes of Miss Henley, at tliis
period of lier hfe, had their brighter side.
She found reason to conoTatuhate herself on
the reconcihation which had brought her
back to her father. Mr. Henley had received
her, not perhaps with affection, but certainly
with kindness. ' If vre don't get in each
other's way, Ave shall do very well; I am
c^lad to see you aoain.' That was all he had
said to her, but it meant much from a soured
and selfish man.
Her only domestic anxiety was caused by
another failure in the health of her maid.
The Doctor declared that medical help
woidd be of no avail, while Ehoda Bennet
remained in London. In the country she had
been born and bred, and to the country she
must return. Mr. Henley's large landed
property, on the north of London, happened
IRIS AT HOME 267
to include a farm in tlie neiglibourliood of
Muswell Hill. Wisely waiting for a favour-
able opportunity, Iris alluded to the good
qualities which had made Rhoda almost as
much her friend as her servant, and asked
leave to remove the invalid to the healthy air
of the farm.
Her anxiety about tlie recovery of a ser-
vant so astonished Mr. Henley, that he was
liurried (as he afterwards declared) into
granting his daughter's request. After this
concession, the necessary arrangements were
easily made. The influence of Iris won the
good-will of the farmer and his wife ; Ehoda,
as an expert and willing needlewoman, being
sure of a welcome, for Jier own sake, in a
family which included a number of young
children. Miss Henley had only to order lier
carriage, and to be within reach of the farm.
A week seldom passed witliout a meeting
between the mistress and the maid.
268 BLIND LOVE
In the meantime, Mountjoy (absent in
France) did not forget to write to Iris.
His letters offered little hope of a speedy
return. The doctors had not concealed from
him that his father's illness would end fatally ;
l)ut there w^ere reserves of vital power still
left, wdiicli might prolong the struggle. Under
these melancholy circumstances, he begged
that Iris would w^rite to him. The oftener
she could tell him of the little events of her
life at home, the more kindly she would
brighten the days of a dreary life.
Easrer to show, even in a triflino; matter,
how gratefully she appreciated Mountjoy's
past kindness, Iris related the simple story of
her life at home, in weekly letters addressed
to her o'ood friend. After tellincc Huo-h
(among other things) of Ehoda's establish-
ment at the farm, she had some unexpected
results to relate, which had followed the
attempt to provide herself with a new maid.
IRJS AT HOME 269
Two young women liaci been successively
engaged — each recommended, by the lady
wliom she had last served, with that utter
disregard of moral obligation which appears
to be shamelessly on the mcrease hi the
England of our day. The first of the two
maids, described as ' rather excitable,' re-
vealed infirmities of temper which suggested
a lunatic asylum as the only fit place for her.
The second young woman, detected in steal-
ing eau-de- cologne, and using it (mixed with
water) as an intoxicating drink, claimed mer-
ciful construction of her misconduct, on the
ground that she liad been misled by the ex-
ample of her last mistress.
At the third attempt to ])rovide herself
with a servant, Iris was able to report the
discovery of a responsible person who told
the truth — an unmarried lady of middle age.
In this case, the young woman was de-
scribed as a servant thoroughly trained in the
270 BLIXD LOVE
performance of her duties, honest, sober,
industrious, of an even temj)er, and unpro-
vided with ' a follower ' in the shape of a
sweetheart. Even her name sounded favour-
ably in the ear of a stranger — it was Fanny
Mere. Iris asked liov/ a servant, apparently
possessed of a faultless character, came to be
in want of a situation. At this question tlie
lady sighed, and acknowledged that she had
' made a dreadful discovery,' relating to the
past life of her maid. It proved to be the old,
the miserably old, story of a broken promise
of marriage, and of the penalty paid as usual
by the unhappy woman. 'I will say nothing
of my own feelings,' the maiden lady ex-
plained. ' In justice to the other female
servants, it was impossible for me to keep
such a person in ni}^ house ; and, in justice to
you, I must most unwillingly stand in tlie
way of Fanny Mere's prospects by mention-
ing my reason for parting with her.'
IRIS AT HO mi: 271
' If I could see the young woman and speak
to her,' Iris said, ' I sliould Hke to decide the
question of engaging her, for rn3\self.'
The lady knew the address of her dis-
charged servant, and — with some appearance
of wonder — communicated it. Miss Henley
wrote at once, telling Fanny Mere to come to
lier on the following da5^
When she woke on the next morning, later
than usual, an event occurred which Iris had
been impatiently expecting for some time
past. She found a letter waiting on her bed-
side table, side by side with her cup of tea.
Lord Harry had written to her at last.
. yyiietlier he used ]iis pen or his tongue,
the Irish lord's conduct was always more or
less in need of an apology. Here were tlie
guilty one's new excuses, expressed in his cus-
tomary medley of frank confession and llowery
'I am fearing, my angel, that I have
272 BLIND LOVE
offended you. You liave too surely said to
yourself, This miserable Harry might have
made me happy by writing two lines — and
what does he do? He sends a message in
words which tell me nothing.
' My sweet girl, the reason why is that I
was in two minds, when your man stopped
me on my way to the ship.
' Whether it was best for you — I was not
thinking of myself — to confess the plain truth,
or to take refuge in affectionate equivocation,
was more tlian I could decide at the time.
When minutes are enough for your intelli-
gence, my stupidity wants days. Well ! I
saw it at last. A man owes the truth to a
true woman ; and you are a true woman.
There you find a process of reasoning — I have
been five days getting hold of it.
' But tell me one tiling first. Brutus
killed a man ; Chai'Iotte Corday killed a man.
One of the two victims was a fine tvrant, and
IRIS AT HOME 273
the other a mean tyrant. Nobody blames
those two historical assassins. Why then
blame me for wishing to make a third ? Is a
mere modern murderer beneath my vengeance,
by comparison with two classical tyrants who
did their murders by deputy? The man who
killed Arthur Mountjoy is (next to Cain alone)
the most atrocious homicide that ever trod the
miry ways of this earth. Tliere is my reply !
I call it a crusher.
* So now my mind is easy. Darling, let
me make your mind easy next.
' When I left you at the window of
Timpany's house, I was off to the other rail-
road to find the murderer in his hiding-place
by the seaside. He had left it ; but I got a
trace, and went back to London — to the
Docks. Some villain in Ireland, who knows
my purpose, must have turned traitor. Any-
how, the wretch has escaped me.
^ Yes ; I searched the ship in every corner
VOL. I. T
274 BLIND LOVE
He was not on board. lias lie ^^one on before
me, by an earlier vessel ? Or has he directed
his flight to some other part of the world ? I
shall find ont in time. His day of reckoning
will come, and he, too, shall know a violent
death ! Amen. So be it. Amen.
' Have I done noAv ? Bear with me, gentle
Iris — there is a word more to come.
' You will wonder wh}^ I went on by the
steam-ship — all the way to Sonth Africa —
when I failed to find the man I wanted, on
board. What w^as my motive ? You, you
alone, are always my motive. Lucky men
have found gold, lucky men have found
diamonds. Why should I not be one of
them? My SAveet, let us suppose two possible
things ; my own elastic convictions would call
them two likely things, but never mind that.
Say, I come back a reformed character ; there
is your only objection to me, at once removed!
And take it for c^ranted tliat I return with a
IRJS AT HOME 275
fortune of 1113^ oAvn finding. In tliat case,
wliat becomes of Mr. Henley's objection to
me ? It melts (as Shakespeare says some-
where) into thin air. Now do take my ad-
vice, for once. Sliow this part of my letter
to 3'Oiir excellent father, with my love. I
answer beforehand for the consequences. Be
happy, my Lady Harry — as happy as I am —
and look for my return on an earlier day
than you may anticipate.— Yours till death,
Like the Irish lord. Miss Henley was * in
two minds,' while she rose and dressed her-
self. There w^ere parts of the letter for which
she loved the writer, and parts of it for which
she hated him.
What a prospect was before that reckless
man — what misery, what horror, might not
be lying in wait in the dreadful future! If
276 BUND LOVE
he failed in the act of vengeance, that violent
death of which lie had written so heedlessly
might overtake him from anotlier hand. If
he succeeded, the law might discover his
crime, and the infamy of expiation on the scaf-
fold might be his dreadful end. She turned,
shuddering, from the contemplation of those
hideous possibihties, and took refuge in the
hope of his safe, his guiltless return. Even if
his visions of success, even if his purposes of
reform (how hopeless at his age !) were actu-
ally realised, could she consent to marry tlie
man who had led his life, had written his
letter, had contemplated (and still cherished)
his merciless resolution of revenge ? No
woman in her senses could let the bare idea
of being liis wife enter her mind. Iris opened
her writing-desk, to hide the letter from all
eyes but her own. As s]ie secured it with
the key, her heart sank under the return of a
terror remembered but too well. Once more
JRIS AT HOME 277
tlie superstitious belief in a destiny that was
urging Lord Harry and herself nearer and
nearer to each other, even when they seemed
to be most widely and most surely separated,
thrilled her under the chilling mystery of its
presence. She dropped helplessly into a
chair. Oh, for a friend who could feel for
her, who could strengthen her, whose wise
words could restore her to her better and
calmer self ! Hugh was far away ; and Iris
was left to suffer and to struggle alone.
Heartfelt aspirations for help and sym-
pathy ! Oh, irony of circumstances, how
were they answered ? The housemaid en-
tered the room, to announce the arrival of a
discharged servant, with a lost character.
' Let the young woman come in,' Iris said.
Was Fanny Mere the friend whom she had
been longing for ? She looked at her trou-
bled face in the glass — and laughed bitterl5^
THE lady's maid
T was not easy to
form a positive
opinion of the
who now pre-
in Miss Hen-
is truly re-
ported as va-
in the female fiiiurc more than beaatv in
THE LADY'S MAID 279
the female face, Fanny Mere's personal ap-
pearance might liave found, in Constanti-
nople, the approval which she failed to
receive in London. Slim and well-balanced,
firmly and neatly made, she interested men
who met Avith her by accident (and sometimes
even women), if they happened to be walking
Ijeliind her. When they quickened their steps
and, passing on, looked back at her face, they
lost all interest in Fanny from that moment.
Painters would liave described the defect in
lier face as ' Avant of colour.' She was one of
the wliitest of fair female human beings.
Light flaxen hair, faint blue eyes with no ex-
pression in them, and a complexion Avhich
looked as if it had never been stirred by a cir-
culation of blood, produced an effect on her
fellow-creatures in general which made them
insensible to the beauty of her figure, and the
grace of her movements. There was no be-
trayal of bad health in her strange pallor : on
2So BLIND LOVE
the contrary, she suggested the idea of rare
physical strength. Her quietly respect fid
manner was, so to say, emphasised by an
underlying self-possession, which looked
capable of acting promptly and fearlessly in
the critical emergencies of life. Otherwise,
the expression of character in her face was
essentially passive. Here was a steady, reso-
lute young woman, possessed of qualities
which failed to show themselves on the surface
— whether good qualities or bad qualities ex-
perience alone could determine.
Finding it impossible, judging by a first
impression, to arrive at any immediate decision
favourable or adverse to the stranger, Iris
opened the interview with her customary
frankness ; leaving the consequences to follow
as they might.
' Take a seat, Fanny,' she said, ' and let us
try if we can understand each other. I tliink
you will agree with me that there must be no
THE LADY'S MAID 281
concealments between us. You ouglit to know
that your mistress has told me why she parted
with you. It was her duty to tell me tlie
truth, and it is my duty not to be unjustly
prejudiced against you after what I have
heard. Pray believe me when I say that I
don't knoAv, and don't wish to know, what
your temptation may have been '
' I beg your pardon, Miss, for interrupting
you. My temptation was vanity.'
Whether she did or did not suffer in mak-
ing that confession, it was impossible to dis-
cover. Her tones were quiet ; her manner
was unobtrusively respectful ; the pallor of
her face was not disturbed by the slio-htest
cliano'e of colour. Was the new maid an
insensible person ? Iris began to fear already
that she might have made a mistake.
' I don't expect you to enter into par-
ticulars,' she said ; ' I don't ask you here to
282 BLIXD LOVE
' When I got your letter, Miss, I tried to
consider how I might show myself Avorthy of
your kindness,' Fanny answered. ' The one
way I could see was not to let you think better
of me than I deserve. When a person, like
me, is told, for the first time, that her figure
makes amends for her face, she is flattered by
the only compliment that has been paid to her
in all lier life. My excuse. Miss (if I have an
excuse) is a mean one — I couldn't resist a
compliment. That is all I have to say.'
Iris began to alter her opinion. This was
not a young woman of the ordinary type. It
began to look possible, and more than possible,
that she was worthy of a helping hand. The
truth seemed to be in her.
'I understand you, and feel for you.'
Having replied in those Avords, Iris wisely and
delicately changed the subject. ' Let me hear
liow you are situated at the present time,' she
continued. ' Are your parents hving ? '
THE LADY'S MAID 283
' My father and mother are dead, Miss.'
' Have you any other relatives P '
' They are too poor to be able to do any-
thing for me. I have lost my character — and
I am left to help myself.'
' Suppose you fail to find another situa-
tion ? ' Iris suggested.
' Yes, Miss ? '
' How can you help yourself ? '
'I can do what other girls have done.'
' What do you mean ? '
' Some of us starve on needlework. Some
take to the streets. Some end it in the river.
If there is no other chance for me, I think I
shall try that way,' said the poor creature, as
quietly as if she was speaking of some custom-
ary prospect that was open to her. ' There will
be nobody to be sorry for me and, as I have
read, drowning is not a very painful death.'
' You shock me, Fanny ! I, for one, should
be sorry for you.'
284 BLIND LOVE
' Thank you, Miss.'
' And try to remember,' Iris continued,
' that there may be chances in the future
which you don't see yet. You speak of what
you have read, and I have already noticed how
clearly and correctly you express yourself.
You must have been educated. Was it at
liome ? or at school ? '
' I was once sent to school,' Fanny replied,
not quite willingly.
' Was it a private school ? '
That short answer warned Iris to be
' Eecollections of school,' she said good-
humouredly, ' are not the pleasantest recol-
lections in some of our lives. Perhaps I have
touched on a subject which is disagreeable to
you ? '
' You have touched on one of my disap-
pointments, Miss. Wliile my mother lived.
THE LADY'S MAID 285
she was my teacher. After her death, my
father sent me to scliooL When he failed in
business, I was obhged to leave, just as I liad
begun to learn and like it. Besides, the girls
found out that I was going away, because
there was no money at liome to pay the fees
— and that mortilied me. There is more that
I might tell you. I have a reason for hating
my recollections of the school — but I mustn't
mention tliat time in my life which your
goodness to me tries to forget.'
All that appealed to her, so simply and so
modestly, in that reply, was not lost on Iris.
After an interval of silence, she said :
' Can you guess what I am thinking of,
Fanny ? '
' No, Miss.'
'I am asking myself a question. If I try
you in my service shall I never regret it ? '
For the first time, strong emotion shook
Fanny Mere, Iler voice failed lier, in tlie
286 BLIND LOVE
effort to speak. Iris considerately went
' You will take the place,' she said, ' of a
maid who has been with me for years — a good
dear creature who has only left me through
ill-health. I must not expect too much of
you. I cannot hope that you will be to me
what Ehoda Bennet has been.'
Fanny succeeded in controlling herself.
'Is there any hope, she asked,' ' of my seeing
' Why do you wish to see her? '
'You are fond of her. Miss — that is one
' And the other ? '
' Ehoda Bennet might help me to serve
3^ou as I want to serve you ; she might
perhaps encourage me to try if I could follow
her example.' Fanny paused, and clasped
her hands fervently. The thought that was
in her forced its way to expression. ' It's so
THE LADV'S MAID 287
easy to feel grateful,' slie said — ' and, oli, so
hard to show it ! '
' Come to me,' her new mistress answered,
' and show it to-morrow.'
Moved by tliat compassionate impulse,
Iris said the words which restored to an
unfortunate creature a lost character and a
forfeited place in tlie world.
288 BLIiyD LOVE
MR. IIEXLEY's temper
|EOVIDED by Nature with ironclad
constitutional defences against ill-
ness, Mr. Henley was now and then
troubled with groundless doubts of his own
state of health. Actino^ under a delusion of
this kind, he imagined symptoms Avhich
rendered a cliange of residence necessary
from his town house to his country house, a
few days only after his daughter had decided
on the engagement of her new maid.
Iris gladly, even eagerly, adapted her own
wishes to the furtherance of her father's plans.
Sorely tried by anxiety and suspense, she
needed all that I'ost and tranquillity could do
MR. HENLEY'S TEMPER 2S9
for her. The first week in the country pro-
duced an improvement in her health. En-
joying the serene beauty of woodland and
field, breathing the delicious purity of the air.
— sometimes cultivating her own corner in the
garden, and sometimes helping the women in
the lighter labours of the dairy — her nerves
recovered their tone, and her spirits rose again
to their higher level.
In the performance of her duties the new
maid justified Miss Henley's confidence in her,
during the residence of the liousehold in the
She showed, in her own undemonstrative
way, a grateful sense of her mistress's kind-
ness. Her various occupations were intelli-
gently and attentively pursued ; her even
temper never seemed to vary ; she gave tlie
servants no opportunities of compLnini no- of ]\qy.
But one peculiarity in her beliaviour excited
hostile remark, below-stairs On tlie occasions
VOL. I. u
290 BLIND LOVE
when she was free to go out for the day, she
always found some excuse for not joimng any
of the other female servants, who might
happen to be similarly favoured. The one
use she made of her hohday was to travel
by railway to some place unknown ; always
returning at the right time in the evening.
Iris knew enouc^h of the sad circumstances to
be able to respect her motives, and to appre-
ciate the necessity for keeping the object of
those solitary journeys a secret from her
The pleasant life in the country house
had lasted for nearly a month, when the an-
nouncement of Hugh's approaching return to
England reached Iris. The fatal end of his
father's long and lingering illness had arrived,
and the funeral liad taken place. Business,
connected with his succession to the property,
would detain liim in London for a few days.
Submitting to this necessity, he earnestly
MR. HENLEV'S TEMPER 291
GX[)re.ssGd the hope of seeing Iris again, the
moment he was at Hberty.
Hearing the good news, ]\Ir. Hunley
obstinately returned to his plans — already
twice thwarted — for promoting the marriage
of Mountjoy and Iris.
He wrote to invite Hugh to his house in
a tone of cordiality which astonished his
daughter ; and when the guest arrived, the
genial welcome of the host had but one
defect — ^Mr. Henley overacted his part. He
gave the two young people perpetual oppor-
tunities of speaking to each other privately ;
and, on the principle that none are so blind
as those who won't see, he failed to discover
that the relations between them continued to
be relations of friendship, do what he might.
Hugh's long attendance on his dying father
had left him depressed in spirits ; Iris under-
stood him, and felt for him. He was not
292 BLIND LOVE
ready with liis opinion of the new maid, after
he had seen Fanny Mere. 'My indination/
he said, ' is to trust the girL And yet I hesitate
to follow my inclination — and I don't know
When Hugh's visit came to an end, he
continued his journey in a northerly direction.
The property left to him by his father included
a cottage, standing in its own grounds, on the
Scotch shore of the Solway Firth. The place
had been neglected during the long residence
of the elder Mr. Mountjoy on the Continent.
Hugh's present object was to judge, by his
own investigation, of the. necessity for repairs.
On the departure of his guest, Mr. Henley
(still obstinately hopeful of the marriage on
which he had set his mind) assumed a jocular
manner towards Iris, and asked if tlie Scotch
cottage was to be put in order for the honey-
moon. Her reply, gently as it was expressed,
threw him into a state of fury. His vindictive
MR, HENLEY'S TEMPER 293
temper revelled, not only in harsh words, but
m spiteful actions. He sold one of his dogs
which had specially attached itself to Iris ;
and, seeing that she still enjoyed the country,
he decided on returning^ to London.
She submitted in silence. But the events
of that past time, when her father's merci-
less conduct had driven her out of his house,
returned ominously to her memory. She said
to herself: 'Is a day comhig when I shall
leave him again ? ' It was coming— and slie
little knew how.
294 BLIND LOVE
THE DOCTOR IN FULL DRESS
E. HENLEY'S lioiisehold had been
again establislied in London, when
a servant appeared one morning
with a visiting card, and announced that a
gentleman had called wlio wislied to see Miss
Henley. She looked at the card. The gentle-
man was Mr. Yimpany.
On the ]x^int of directing the man to say
tliat she was engaged, L^is checked herself.
Mrs. Yimpany 's farewell words had pro-
duced a strong impression on her. There had
been moments of doubt and gloom in her later
life when the remembrance of that unhappy
woman was associated with a feeling (perhaps
THE DOCTOR IN FULL DRESS 295
a morbid feeling) of self-reproacli.. It seemed
to be hard on the poor penitent wretch not to
have written to her. Was she still leadino'
the same dreary life in the mouldering old
town ? Or had she made another attempt to
return to the ungrateful stage? The gross
husband, impudently presenting himself with
liis card and his message, could answer tliose
questions if he could do nothing else. For
that reason only, Iris decided that she would
receive j\Ir. Vimpany.
On entering the room, she found two
discoveries awaiting her, for wdiicli she was
The doctor's personal appearance exhibited
a strikino^ chans^e ; he was dressed, in accord-
ance with the strictest notions of professional
propriety, entirely in black. More remarkable
still, there happened to be a French novel
among the books on the table — and that
novel, Mr. Yinipan}^, barbarous Mr. Yimpany,
2g6 BLIND LOVE
was actually reading with an appearance of
understanding it !
'I seem to surprise you,' said the doctor.
' Is it this ? ' He held up the French novel as
he put the question.
' I must own that I was not aware of
the range of your accomplishments,' Iris
' Oh, don't talk of accomplishments I I
learnt my profession in Paris. For nigh on
three years I lived among the French medical
students. Noticing this book on the table, I
thought I would try whether I had forgotten
the language — in the time that has passed
(you know) since those days. Well, my
memory isn't a good one in most things, but,
strange to say (force of habit, I suppose), some
of my French sticks by me still. I hope I see
you well. Miss Henley. Might I ask if you
noticed the new address, when I sent up my
card ? '
THE DOCTOR IN FULL DRESS 297
' I only noticed your name.'
The doctor produced his pocket-book, and
took out a second card. With pride he
pointed to the address : ' 5 Eedburn Eoad,
Hampstead Heath.' With pride he looked at
his black clothes. ' Strictly professional, isn't
it ? ' he said. ' I have bought a new practice ;
and I have become a new man. It isn't easy
at first. No, by Jingo — I beg your pardon—
I was about to say, my own respectability
rather bothers me ; I shall get used to it in
time. If you will allow me I'll take a liberty.
No offence, I hope ? '
He produced a handful of his cards, and
laid them out in a neat little semicircle on the
' A word of recommendation, when you
have the chance, would be a friendly act on
your part,' he explained. 'Capital air in
Eedburn Eoad, and a fine view of the Heath out
of the garret windows — but it's rather an out-
293 BLIND LOVE
of-the-way situation. Xot that I complain ;
beggars mustn't be choosers. I should have
preferred a practice in a fashionable part
of London ; but our little windfall of
He came to a full stop in the middle of a
sentence. The sale of the superb diamond
pin, by means of which Lord Harry had
repaid Mrs. Yimpany's services, was, of all
domestic events, the last which it might be
wise to mention in the presence of Miss
Henley. He was awkwardly silent. Taking
advantage of that circumstance, Iris introduced
the subject in whicli she felt interested.
' How is Mrs. Yimpany ? ' she asked. '
' Oh, she's all right ! '
' Does she like your new house P '
The doctor made a strange reply. 'I
really can't tell you,' he said.
' Do you mean that Mrs. Yimpany declines
to express an opinion ? '
THE DOCTOR IN FULL DRESS 299
He laughed. 'In all my experience,' lie
said, ' I never met with a woman who did
that ! No, no ; the fact is, my wife and I
liave parted company. There's no need to
look so serions about it ! Incompatibility of
temper, as the saying is, has led us to a
friendly separation. Equally a relief on both
sides. She goes her way, and I go mine.'
His tone -disgusted Iris — and she let him
see it. 'Is it of any use to ask you for Mrs.
Yimpany's address ? ' she inquired.
His atrocious good-humour kept its
balance as steadily as ever : ' Sorry to disap-
point you. Mrs. Yimpany hasn't given me
lier address. Curious, isn't it? The fact is,
slie moped a good deal, after you left us ;
talked of her duty, and the care of her soul,
and that sort of thing. When I hear where
she is, I'll let you know with pleasure. To
the best of my belief, she's doing nurse's work
300 BLIND LOVE
'Nurse's worki What do you mean ? '
' Oh, the right thmg — all in the fashion.
She belongs to what they call a Sisterhood ;
goes about, you know, in a shabby black
gown, with a poke bonnet. At least, so Lord
Harry told me the other day.'
In spite of herself, Iris betrayed the agita-
tion which those words instantly roused in her.
'Lord Harry!' she exclaimed. 'Where is
he ? In London ? '
' Yes-^at Parker's Hotel.'
' When did he return ? '
' Oh, a few days ago ; and — what do j^ou
think? — he's come back from the gold-fields a
lucky man. Damn it, I've let the cat out of
the bag ! I was to keep the thing a secret
from everybody, and from you most particu-
larly. He's got some surprise in store for you.
Don't tell him what I've done ! We had
a little misunderstanding, in past days, at
Honeybuzzard — and, now we are friends
THE DOCTOR IN FULL DRESS 301
again, I don't want to lose his lordship's
Iris promised to be silent. But to know
that the wild lord was in England again, and
to remain in ignorance whether he had, or
liad not, returned with the stain of bloodshed
on him, was more than she could endure.
' There is one question I must ask you,' she
said. ' I have reason to fear that Lord Harry
left this country, with a purpose of revenge -'
Mr. Yimpany wanted no further explana-
tion. 'Yes, yes ; I know. You may be easy
about that. There's been no mischief done,
either one way or the otlier. The man he
Avas after, when lie landed in South Africa (he
told me so himself), has escaped him.'
With that reply, the doctor got up in a
hurry to bring his visit to an end. He pro-
posed to take to flight, he remarked face-
tiously, before Miss Henley wheedled him into
saying anything more.
302 BLIND LOVE
Alter opening the duor, liowevcr, lie
suddenly returned to Iris, and added a last
word m the strictest confidence.
' If you won't forget to recommend me to
your friends,' he said, 'I'll trust you with
another secret. You will see his lordship in
a day or two, when he returns from the races.
The races ! What was Lord Harry doing
at the races ?
END OF THE FIRST VOLUME
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